Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Change? We Don't Change! Leadership Insights on Change Management


Change is not a nice word for many people. Unless you fall into that small percentile of people who embrace change immediately (like those itching for a new ipad to be released), most change in life takes communication and a development of understanding. You know what I mean, for instance, 'Tell me why that change benefits me again?!'

In Organisation Development & Change (Waddell, Cummings and Worley, 2000), some tips of change management are highlighted. They say for effective change management you need to:
  • Motivate change
  • Create a vision of the change
  • Develop political support for the change
  • Manage the transition of the change
  • Sustain momentum after the change is complete
These leadership insights are obviously written for organisations, and the managers and employees who are implementing changes to their workplace. Whether you are a leader in a church, a non-for-profit, a business, or even if you are seeking to make some change in your home environment, keep reading on.

Motivating Change

For people to want to embrace change, they need to be motivated to change. There needs to be a readiness for change. You can create a readiness for change by 'revealing discrepancies between current and desired states' (Waddell et al.: 152). For example, if the change is the moving of equipment, it's helping people understand that the equipment is more desirable to be in the new location than its current location, that is, the change is worthwhile!

Create a Vision

The vision can simply create excitement or 'buy-in' for the change by 'providing a compelling rationale as to why change is necessary and worth the effort' (Wadell et al: 155). I have written extensively on vision, and its potential positive impact on organisational life. Have a look at the visionary leadership post.

Develop Political Support

I would probably word this differently from the authors of Organisation Development & Change. Personally, as an Officer of The Salvation Army and minister of a local church congregation, I would grab hold a God-given change project (e.g. an extension of a building, the employing of someone new, or the expanding of a particular ministry), and then seek to help people understand the purpose of the change. This may well be the same as eliciting political support, but I would much rather see it, as gathering support and developing understanding from all levels of the organisation and all key stakeholders, so that they can see the benefits of the change. This differs slightly from the idea of needing to canvass political support, like its some sort of democratic process where people vote on whether this is the right change or not. I would possibly call this, 'Develop Organisational Understanding of the Change'.

Manage the Transition

The change process is not just about communicating a clear vision of the benefits of the change. Nor is the change process just helping all levels of the organisation understand the change. You must manage the transition of the change.

Years ago, in the church I was in, we transitioned into a new facility on a Sunday morning. We spent months communicating the rationale for the change; sharing the vision; getting people excited. This was all great, but without a smooth (or as smooth as possible) a transition into the new building, people would become dispondent and disappointed. They would no doubt say things like, 'It would have been better if we left things as they were!' This is why you need to make a smooth transition! Write a flowchart, mindmap or use a big whiteboard. Try to nut out the logisitics of the project. Think about people, finances, equipment, etc. Consider the hows and whys and whens... There is so much more to say, but we'll leave that for another day.

Sustain Momentum

For the example of the moving location of the church gathering, it was important to continue to create excitement and momentum following the change. For example, we wanted people to continually understand the increased value of being in a new location compared with the previous location. Since we had to set up this new location every week for our time together as a church, it was imperative to communicate the value of the change continually. We had to sustain momentum.

There you go. There's some quick leadership insights and tips into effective change management.
*****

As the old joke goes:

'How many leaders does it take to change a lightbulb?'

'Change?! We don't change!'

*****

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Emotional Leadership

Visionary Leadership

Leadership and Management

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