Leading and managing organisational change
Every change begins with a leadership decision. Making the decision to institute changes is not always easy. Being prepared, planning well, and being surrounded by a good team will make that decision a lot easier.
Begin by putting yourself in a positive frame of mind. You are likely to experience higher than normal levels of stress and knowing this beforehand will give you the ability to be prepared mentally and physically. You will be the anchorperson and foundation, and with your steady hand will guide your team through the stressful events. Be a reassuring and active force throughout the whole process.
It is impossible to prepare for every contingency, but planning for the known is a must. Add time or extra room to the schedule for the unknowns. When you encounter an unexpected event, your schedule should not be put off by much if you have built-in some leeway. It will provide that buffer that gives you and your team the ability to deal with the unknowns and keep rolling with the change process
Surround yourself with people that you can delegate to and be confident in their abilities and skills. Be precise and specific with your directions as to when the change process begins you will be depending on these individuals and their talents. Communicating and providing feedback are the keys to successful delegation; make sure your team understands this. If communication fails or there is not accurate feedback the chances of success are lessened.
An issue that sometimes arises when delegating is micromanaging. Keep an eye out to not micro-manage as you can quickly lose track of events and it will take time away from your main duties. Delegating is a skill that takes time as you must first learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team and know what tasks you can and cannot hand out. It may not be possible to always delegate, but when it can be done it will provide a great resource.
Always be available during the change process. Before the change prepares your friends and family that you may not be available for social events. Reassure your team that you are there for them and you are here to provide them with the necessary resources to lead them through the change. Stress to them that you are available and focused on keeping the communications lines open.
Always be aware of rumors, they will happen before during and after the change. Do not ignore any rumor, put out honest and clear communication as soon as possible. Reassure your team that if they hear a rumor to seek out more information from a reliable source. Remind them that spreading rumors helps no one and will cause more harm than good.
Not everyone will agree on the change. Keep in mind that these types of feelings are normal, as people generally do not enjoy change and are sometimes made nervous by it. You will likely encounter pushback and resistance by a number of team members. Provide facts and data to show why the change is happening and reassure them of the need and benefits of the change. These types of individuals are best suited to be educated about the change with information.
If you are encountering an extreme case of pushback, provide them with some choices that still fall within the spectrum of the intended change. They should then feel more involved in the process and it will help alleviate the negative mindset they may be experiencing.
It is vitally important to make sure that all stakeholders and employees are on board with a change.
In order to continue increasing awareness and to build a desire to support the upcoming change; the change management team must reach out to the organization at large. The force field analysis, developed by German social psychologist Kurt
Lewin helps a change management team to:
• Identify the pros and cons of an option prior to making a decision
• Explore what is going right — and what is going wrong
• Analyze any two opposing positions.
If concerns or issues arise, then steps must be taken to ensure awareness is continually raised and that desire to support the change is increased. Strategies that can help the change management team responsively address employees’ concerns include:
• Engaging employees, providing forums for people to express their questions and concerns
• Equipping managers & supervisors to be effective change leaders and managers of resistance
• Orchestrating opportunities for advocates of the change to contact those not yet on board
• Aligning incentive and performance management systems to support the change.
Change is not exempt from Murphy’s Law. And even if something isn’t going wrong, change management team members must constantly be observing, listening, and evaluating the progress and process during a change. Below are several tools to help the team accomplish this.
A feedback form is used to gather information from those involved in a change to help shape the remaining course of the change project. Instead of a paper form, feedback can be obtained through online surveys (Zoomerang.com or Survey Monkey.com), an in-house questionnaire on the intranet, a few questions sent by email, or a focus group. The questions will vary depending upon the subject being queried.
Open Feedback includes asking participants for suggestions and comments. The change management team members to modify the project plan and/or the communication plan or to work with specific individuals or groups that may be providing roadblocks to success can use the compiled results of the feedback forms.
Once a change initiative is underway, it is critical to sustaining the change with reinforcement. The leader must make sure that the project and communication plan remains on track. They need to identify, and explore any issues from employees or stakeholders that have emerged, and review and consider any feedback gathered to date.
Acting as a facilitator, the leader helps to bring about learning and productivity. Communication will be a byproduct of this by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, and supervision.
He or she listens actively, asks questions, encourages diverse viewpoints, organizes information, helps the group reach consensus, and understands that the individual needs of team members will affect teamwork.
The LEAD model provides a simple methodology for facilitating a participative meeting:
• Lead with objectives: When clear objectives are stated upfront, group energy is channeled toward achieving an outcome. The objectives shape the content of the meeting.
• Empower to participate: In the Lead model, the facilitator is empowered to encourage active participation.
• Aim for consensus: Getting the team to consensus will have members more likely to support and carry out the decisions of the team.
• Direct the process: How the meeting progresses will influence the quality of the decisions of the team, and influences the commitment of team members.
Leaders must differentiate between process and content. Content includes the topics, subjects, or issues; process is about how the topics, subjects, or issues are addressed.
Because communications from managers and supervisors have been shown to have a significant impact on employees during a change initiative, it is appropriate that they be actively involved in celebrating success with employees as a result of positive performance. Celebrations can occur on three levels:
1. One on one conversation: In a private meeting, a supervisor should attest to the fact that due to the employee’s effort, a change was made, and how it is succeeding. He or she should extend verbal thanks to the employee.
2. Public recognition: Public recognition officially acknowledges outstanding performance and points out a role model that helped make a successful change happen. Supervisors should carefully consider who receives recognition, and not alienate group members who participated in the change but who may not have distinguished themselves as significantly.
3. Group celebrations: Fun or engaging activities are used to celebrate key milestones by a group. They include buffet or restaurant lunches, dinner events, or can include group outings to sports, amusement, or cultural events. It is important that these types of celebrations try to include the involvement of the primary change sponsor in some way.
*Professor Akindotun Merino
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