Change is not a single event. It is an ongoing, evolutionary process, one change triggers another, often in unexpected places. The inter-relationship of components leads to an endless cycle of reassessment and renewal.
Change is not managed, rather the organisation is managed through change. Management must fully understand how change works in order to lead their organisations successfully into the future. The introduction and management of change are two of the most critical elements of leadership for the future.
While change, whether planned or unplanned, is inevitable and often beneficial, we need to be aware of the effect on individuals and take steps to help make the process as painless as possible.
Leaders must fully understand the change process to move their organisations successfully, through the turmoil of today’s economic environment, into the future. Many corporations faced with a lack of, or diminishing resources, find that this exerts increasing pressure on their leadership to proactively respond to planned and unplanned changes. A primary determinate of the future success of an organisation is the leadership’s ability to assimilate change, then formulate and articulate a clear vision, accompanied by implementation of succinct strategic goals and objectives.
Two of the most critical elements of leadership are the introduction and management of change. Many leaders have little or no training in the change process. Most organisations rise or fall based on how well they manage the introduction of change and the control of uninvited changes in their environment.
Responsiveness to change is as important to organisations as it is to people. There are two kinds of organisations in today’s world: those that are changing and those that are going out of business. The business and government graveyard is filled with the corpses of organisations that failed to respond to inevitable changes.
Similarly, there are also two kinds of people: those who are changing and those who are setting themselves up to be victims of change. The key difference here is between people being change managers or change resisters.
Lacking in training or knowledge, the great majority of leaders come to rely on instinct and experience, rather than a full understanding of the change process. Some out of fear of change resist the inevitable transformation of their organisation. This tends to put the organisation at risk when facing unanticipated as well as planned change.
The successful change manager is one who is committed to being a perpetual learner. Myths, realities, and historical cultures need to be acknowledged and managed toward a new set of priorities and values. Leaders who are change managers address and reduce the fear of change that naturally exists in the work group. They build trust and confidence rather than attempting to manipulate the work group.
Specific Keys in Managing Change:
1. Managing change is not all about “soft” skills. It is about developing specific management competencies around effective change leadership. These management competencies are essential in today’s workplace.
2. Change management is necessary to manage business risks during change, including avoiding the loss of valued employees, minimising productivity slides, avoiding negative impacts on customers and enabling the change to be implemented on schedule and on budget.
3. Managing change benefits employees by keeping them involved and informed throughout the change process. This enables employees to make informed choices about how they will transition through the change rather than react based on fear.
4. Change management provides the tools to proactively manage resistance to change and to deal decisively with resistance to change that is persistent and threatening to the organisation. Without these tools, changes can become mired in workplace politics and ultimately fail.
Change is the norm. Employees view their career and role in the company in new ways. In response, management competencies must adapt and businesses must work to develop change management and change leadership competencies from the CEO down to the front-line manager.
Life is change. Growth is optional.