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Managing Change

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Posted 16 October 2015 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with your change management skills.

Managing Change

No doubt you have noticed recently, there is a lot of change occuring. Change in the economy. Change in work practices. Change in the labour market. Change in technology. Political change. Changes in the benefit system. And all this impacts your work.

Things are changing.

The marketplace is hotting up again but, this time, the market will be a Darwinian "survival of the fittest" situation. Long gone is the hope that you might be given a "government grant" or you might get some funding, or free money from the bank. This time, the only way you can stay on top, is to be better than those with whom you are competing.

You'll need to be, as good as, or better than the competition. You'll need to be able to manage change better than the competition.

But how?

Let us first recognise that change comes in two forms.

  • Evolutionary change.
  • Revolutionary change.

1. Evolutionary change

Evolutionary change may be characterised by the following:

  • Continuous.
  • Made by adapting the existing model.
  • In small increments.
  • Easy to do, (but easy not to).
  • Reversible.
  • Cheap to implement.
  • Usually driven by one's own personal initiative.
  • Tends to build confidence in the future.

2. Revolutionary change

By contrast, revolutionary change is the opposite:

  • Dis-Continuous. Periodic.
  • Made by abandoning the existing model and building a new system from scratch.
  • Large scale change.
  • Not easy to do, but dangerous not to.
  • Irreversible.
  • Costly to implement.
  • Usually driven by outside influences: ie you are being forced to make the change.
  • Tends to shake confidence in the future.

In either case, whether evolutionary or revolutionary the change has to be properly managed.

Proper change management should be: Purposeful, well organised and supported.

1. Purposeful

Even though the change may be driven by forces beyond your control and for reasons that you don't agree with, the aim and purpose of the change, meaning the state to which you are moving towards, should be selected by you.

For example: If you are being forced to move out, against your will, that is not your choice. But given you must move out, the decision relating to where you move to, should be made very carefully. And it should be made by you. You should make your enforced change, directed towards a predetermined end state. An end state selected by you.

2. Well organised

If you have to move, then make the move an orderly move. Use all of your skill to break the change down into smaller subsets. Then break the subsets into smaller subsets. And then do it again.

Keep breaking the task down into a great number of small easy tasks. Put the tasks into order. Allocate responsibilities to each task. Put a timeline on each one. Do all you can to make the change a "process of logical progression", as opposed to a "sink or swim situation".

Each hour spent in planning will save at least four hours in execution.

3. Emotionally well supported

Proper change management should be emotionally well supported. The reason is that most people don't like change. They don't like change because we are creatures of habit and routines. We do many things by routine. Habits make us feel comfortable: Our habits are our "comfort zones". Change disrupts our habits and therefore it makes people uncomfortable and ill at ease: stressed. Even good change is stressful. Winning the lottery for some people, ruins their happiness, because they can't handle the change.

So it is important that the managers and leaders are careful to sell the benefits of the change. Keep talking about:

  • The reasons for the change.
  • The purpose of the change.
  • The plans for the change and the benefits of the change.

Don't allow the managers to publicly whine, moan and complain about the injustice of the change, and the unfairness of it all. None of that helps. It makes a stressful situation, more stressful. Instead:

  • Keep your eye on the ball.
  • Work the plan.
  • Think positive.

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Some people take change in their stride without breaking a sweat, others have more trouble. Take our free quiz to see how well you are set up to deal with the pressure of change.

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

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