What principles can be used for an effective change management?
Change Management is the systematic approach for implementing change in an organization with adaptation as one of the crucial elements that may determine its success.
I think this is a fantastic question because so many organizations try to implement system-wide change, only to have it fail. This is partly because change can be unsettling for many (most) people, so they resist. One of the primary reasons is because companies give up on the implementation too early and a few months later try a different system. Employees learn to sit tight and ride out the change because they know that eventually, the company will give up and they can go back to the status quo. I believe the key is to obtain buy-in early by involving everyone in the process - including top management. When people see the need and understand the plan, they are more likely to participate in the process.
One of my favorite books on this topic is "Leading Change" by Dr. John Kotter. He outlines an 8-step process for success which includes establishing a sense or urgency, getting buy-in in advance at all levels of the organization, communicating the message and measuring for success.
I recently helped change the paradigm of the management team in a division of chain of restaurants. The management style was going towards a non productive group of managers with no leadership or vision, working just enough to stay under the radar not realizing the outcome of the future of the organization.
I was in a position where I not only had to lead down, but also manage upward two levels. I knew where the company wanted to go but they had the wrong people working their plan with no leaders in place. I stirred the waters pretty hard hanging some managers out to dry but in the process found hidden leaders who stepped up and pulled ahead of the non producers.
During the process I also had to step up my game every day planning to move the company forward being aggressive making minimal errors. People wanted me to fail. I brought two poor stores from the bottom of the company to the top. No store in the area has ever rank in the top of the company . One now performs in the top 10 of 300 and another the number one spot. It was nice because I didn't have to spend much time at the other locations since they got in line to become better performers due to managing up.
I was given a task and it was exciting and sometimes difficult because when you manage upwards you loose a lot of support. Eventually they get it and life gets easier. But I did question my logic sometimes. However, they are producing. The company has a new understanding of what the difference between and manager and a leader is. Now their focus is developing leaders.
I love this question, but before I answer I want to pose two questions to you. What are your changing and why? If you haven't thought about these questions, then go back to the drawing and reassess your desired outcomes. Change has to begin with the end in mind and if you can't understand why change has to happen then you will be unable to create something sustainable.
A good change effort focuses on current, future state, why we need to get there and how your staff can help you get there. But to get to the point you need to know what you need their help with and why you need it.
I think that with any change management initiative, communication is key. I always encourage managers and executives to over communicate if possible. Whenever change occurs people ask themselves why? and how does this impact me?. Think about the answers to these questions when communicating. Simon Sinek's book, start with Why is a great read on this topic.
Change management requires a combination of consulting, training and then coaching over time to make it stick. Any one alone usually fails. When I say change I mean "Cultural Change" mainly, as the people are the source of everything. These three strategies accomplish different things:
A) Consulting will discover, diagnose and prescribe a solution.
B) Training will educate on key information, which is almost useless alone
C) Coaching will close the gap in understanding and hand-hold people through the process until it becomes habit with discipline.
Change also requires "selling" the solution internally so people are excited about it. This selling is embedded into the process all along the way. Expectation management and understanding each stakeholders needs and motivations is important too.
Change Management (OCM) requires leadership ability and gravitas, where you need to convince people to WANT to follow you, not depend on coercive techniques of management. It is as much art as science and takes at least a decade of management experience to do well.
When facing change, people's reactions are driven by how they perceive or understand how the change may affect them. False perceptions and lack of understanding may adversely affect their buy-in to change. If buy-in doesn't exist, they won't be motivated or engaged to accept and adapt to the change. Reactions to change aren't always predictable, but are they manageable? Without a doubt, the answer is yes, but it takes some effort. Be open, communicate, and coach and mentor those affected by the change. It's only the first step to managing change, but a critical one. If the sailors aren't on board, the ship won't sail.
Change is inevitable and we still resist it. It is stated by Guy and Michelle, that handling human resistance is key to any change management approach.
Change Management Principles basis my work experience in this field will be as follows:
a) Addressing the human side - this will involve
i) top-bottom approach,
ii) involvement of all function areas that will be impacted by this change,
iii) assessing the cultural landscape and
iv) communication of change.
b) SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) Approach
c) Strong Leadership to drive this change systematically
d) Implementation of Change keeping in mind the Human aspect highlighted in point a.
e) Finally, sustenance of this change through a robust governance model/framework.
Change Management is a cycle of continuous improvement. Good luck.
Change management requires a wonderful understanding of organisations, both theoretical and practical, good strategic vision, great social skills (as most of the problems emerge only after a thorough dialog with people on the lines) and very good psychological skills. This is about the necessary skillset.
About the principles... like for any system, the most important principle is the balance. In order for a system to be sustainable, it must possess a good feedback system and to be balanced. Any introduced change would inevitably disbalance the system. Once the system is at the desired state, the balance need to be achieved anew. As the business systems are quite sophisticated systems, not knowing their elements could bring about a real disaster.