Managing Organizational Change
In most organizations the only constant is "change". With that in mind, is "managing change" really possible, or is it an oxymoron like military intelligence? At Everson Consulting we don't believe you can manage change; instead, we recommend you lead it. Take a look at our Leadership page to gain a feel for our Leadership principles. We believe that we have a unique approach to "change" that addresses the real world within which you and your team's work.
Whether it is your lead workers who implement the change, your management team responsible for leading the change, or your executive team who vision and champion the change, training is critical to the success of your change initiatives. Our full suite of Change-related training prepares everyone for the inevitable.
Leader/managers often spring change upon their teams with little chance for input or understanding. "Because I said so" is usually the reason given for the change.
That approach may be effective in rare, emergency situations, but if the team is comfortable in their present process, or if they fear negative impact from the change, the cost of poker goes way up.
Let’s first discuss the most common reason why people resist change.
We all turn our lives over to routine, to Habits. In a corporate setting they are often referred to as "paradigms". They are nothing more than traditional ways of doing things. They are our corporate habits, They are the "sacred cows".
When asked why certain practices are followed the normal reaction is” We have always done it this way”. This is the working definition of a “paradigm”.
The same holds true for the mindless, personal habits you have every day. Which leg goes into your pants first? We know that most people are either "right leggers" or "left leggers". Never thought about it, did you? But this is the kind of subtle resistance you may face when implementing a "change" without support and buy-in from the team. They need to see the benefits of the new process, whether personally or departmentally. The discomfort in making the change needs to be outweighed by the advantages following implementation.
The other resistance to change comes from Fear. It is much different than habits, or paradigms. Fear can paralyze a department. Bosses tend to gloss over this issue, thinking instead that if they stress benefits the team will jump on the bandwagon.
A word of alert: The bandwagon will leave town with only the manager on board, because the team will do all it can to resist. They are afraid. Don't try to promise benefits, like most "salespeople" are taught to do. Instead, you need to include the team early in the process, educating them to all aspect of the change. Get them understanding the full process and even though they may hold back for a while they will come around.
At Everson Consulting we want to provide you with an easy to use tool that will help uncover the reasons for the resistance. Our Comparative Analysis worksheet allows you to analyze the change early in the process and better address overt and covert roadblocks.
Every organization goes through various lifecycles. We help you better diagnose where you are on your lifecycle. Are your Pioneers in the right place to lead the change; are your Settlers best positioned to implement the change? And are your Wagon Masters serving as the connecting rods for both teams.
(For more on Pioneers, Settlers, and Wagon Masters see my article on "Everyday Leadership".)