A Discussion on Change Management and How to Make it Work

A Discussion on Change Management and How to Make it Work

In my September newsletter I discussed the concept of change. Largely I see the majority of us resistant to change (which I would doubt there would be many arguments against this) and as a society/business community expecting change to happen instantaneously. We are very much in a “now” society. Technology has spoiled us to the point where we demand immediate results. Yet there is something to be said for slowing the process down. And truthfully, by taking more time on the front end, we make things work much smoother on the back end.

Think of the place where you work. How often do things change? How often is that change met with resistance? How many of you are familiar with the “Flavor of the Month”? Often the running joke with each new initiative is “this too shall pass” and your employees play the waiting game to see when you will get tired of the new process, idea, or concept and go back to doing things as before. In fact, your employees can condition you to fail in the change process. In some examples I have seen the stand off last for years! Yes, years. And the only result to come out of it was going back to the old way of doing things so it’s less painful. This all because of our need to make changes happen quickly and dramatically.

In my newsletter I spoke about incremental change. This process is most effective in companies that have been highly resistant to change in the past. It is a way of conditioning them to be more receptive to change in the future. In addition, the success rates are much higher that the change will be implemented and integrated into your business. To see some of the points, I will refer you to the article here: http://cdn.shoutlet.com/server/bar/51644/8555/0/s/0. To add to that discussion, I will continue on.

The idea of change is simple, yet the execution of it can seem complex. And in a way it is because to truly implement most changes, you need the full buy-in of your staff. The larger the organization, the more people you have to get on board. In most cases, change is driven top down. Somebody in leadership comes up with an idea and wants it implemented. There may, or may not, be a discussion among management on this change before it is passed down to the next layer. Middle management is given the concept and is then asked to drive it down to the front lines. Here it is crucial that middle managers understand all the how’s and the why’s in order communicate it effectively to the staff. Often this does not happen as effectively as it should. The change may be shared in meetings, emails, or newsletters, but full buy-in hasn’t taken place. In the end this leads to resistance and not seeing the full benefit of the change process.

What if the change process was reversed? Instead of speeding the process up hoping to see immediate results, it was backed down to a more realistic time frame. Also, what if the seeds of change was planted in the minds of the employees so that instead of a top down approach, you drove the change from the bottom up. How might that change things?

Right now you might be saying to yourself, “We need to move quickly so we can react quickly.” This is true, but more so when you are doing just that: reacting. Often business decisions, personal decisions, political decisions, etc. are a result of responding to an impending crisis. Sadly, we might have even been warned about the outcomes of this crisis earlier where we could have taken action, but the motivation wasn’t there for whatever reason. Then when we are forced to deal with it we react. We need to become better at looking further ahead to prevent this from happening. We need to find ways to take the important but not urgent needs and prioritize.

You may also be thinking, “The employees won’t come up with the right solution, and then when we don’t use it they will be upset.” That is because we have conditioned people to pass their problems to others. This is especially true of many managers. Managers often take on the burden of their staffs issues because they live in a false belief that it’s quicker and easier to fix the problem themselves instead of coaching and teaching their people how to effectively deal with it. In essence, the ownership of the problem/idea is passed from the employee to the leader. So if it doesn’t work, it’s now the manager’s problem. This is why it is so important to keep ownership where it belongs, on the individual.

If you are able to improve these two areas: being proactive instead of reactive and placing ownership and accountability on your people, over time you will be able to make change happen quickly and effectively. Take steps today to create a culture of change and the first step will start with you!

I encourage others to share their thoughts and ideas here. Open up a discussion and through that learn how to make change happen.