Posts tagged management
Four Questions That Will Help Determine An Organizations Readiness for Change!
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Previously I shared that for any transformation effort to be effective, you must first have an appreciation that all changed efforts start with understanding human nature (see “Managing Change Starts with Understanding Human Nature”); and, prior to undertaking any strategic change or transformation effort, organizations should undertake a Readiness Assessment to gauge if they are really ready for change (see “Is Your Organization Really Ready to Change?”).

As part of this assessment, four key questions must be asked, answered and addressed:

1. Do Leaders at every level have a common vision of the change to come?

For any change initiative to have even the slightest chance to succeed, leaders at every level of the organization need to be 100% clear and aligned on two critical factors:

- Is there a common understanding of the change to come from an organizational perspective?

- Is everyone clear on their role in leading the change, AND, the interdependencies’ and impact their individual role has to the overall success of the organization?

During any change or transformation effort there can only be ONE vision of what the future state will be! There is only room for one version of the truth, one message that gets communicated, and most importantly, one understanding of what success looks like. Too often in many organizations, senior leaders communicate one vision of the future, however, those beneath them take liberties to editorialize that vision with their own biases and the end message is confusing and convoluted to the rank and file.

Additionally, every leader at every level must be clear of the impact and interdependency their ability to execute has on the whole organization and the success of the change effort. When leaders lose sight of, or don’t understand these impacts, they can unwittingly contribute to what appears to be the success of their function or department, but at the expense of the success of the overall organization.

2. Will the organization’s culture support or resist the change?

Just as every country, social, and ethnic group has unique cultures, likewise, every industry, organization, and even departments within an organization can have its’ own unique culture.  The key is determining in advance how “change adverse” or resistant is the culture? Is the culture one that suffers from W.A.D.I.T.W. (We’ve Always Done It This Way)? Or worse yet, suffer from a bad case of B.W.A.D. (this change may be good for other departments “But We Are Different”)?

To effectively drive change, before the first step is implemented, leaders must engage and understand the culture and how the change will be received.

3. What (and Who) do we anticipate will be the main resistors to change?

Knowing that by nature humans are change adverse, it should be assumed going in that there will be some resistance. The key is in anticipating “what” aspects of the transformation initiative will receive the most resistance, and, “who” are the key influencers within the organizations who might be the most focal resistors?
Every organization has certain “sacred cows,” those written or unwritten rules, processes, or expectations that people have come to enjoy. For decades IBM had a policy (unwritten if I recall) of “full employment.” The promise was, as long as you were a productive worker who added value, there would always be a role for you within the organization. You wouldn’t be downsized or laid off, as long as you performed.

However, in the early to mid 90’s under former CEO Lou Gerstner, IBM was forced to abandon this policy as market conditions and the competitive landscape changed. While ultimately successful in transforming IBM from a hardware/software manufacturer to a service provider, it was a shock to the culture when full employment came to an end.

4. How can we mitigate resistance to change?

In my experience, resistance to change can be mitigated by:

- Having a concise, compelling argument as to “Why” the organization must change to maintain it’s competitive edge, to drive growth or whatever the motivation is. Everyone must be crystal clear as to why, what will happen if we don’t, and the possible impact on the workforce if the status quo remains.

- Engaging workers from ALL levels of the organization in the planning process (this can include those key influencers who might not be supportive) to ensure input is received from top to bottom.

- Consider a phased or piloted implementation plan, allowing for mid-course corrections as new information is gained and unforeseen challenges are better understood.

- Communicate consistently and periodically on the status of the change initiative. In the absence of information, people will often make up their own reality of how things are going, which is almost always worse than reality.

Managing Change Starts With Understanding Human Nature!
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A common approach in change management speeches and presentations is to present the theory of change management, the steps to successful change transitions, and to assume that two people can receive the same information about a transition, and can be equally prepared to adopt/embrace that transition.  And that the two people can equally prepared to employ best practices for leading or implementing transition. That’s simply not the case.

And, when I say this, I’m not speaking of being prepared with the information or talking points about the change, or the best practices/processes for leading change. These are certainly important.  But, I’m talking about the head acknowledgment versus heart acknowledgment of change. You see, on some level, we all get that change is inevitable and we have to deal with it.  In our heads, we get that.  But, the emotions that well up inside most of us before a major change or transition, reinforce that, at the heart of it, none of us is every really “prepared” for change.

While we all approach change with varying degrees of anxiety, mandated change in particular, elicits resistance.  And, I’m not here to demonize the resistance, to trivialize the barriers.  No matter how positive a change, the barriers to that change are to be viewed as legitimate because those barriers are the stakeholders’ reality. As leaders, we can bring personal biases to the table—again, which can be legitimate—that inform our ability to lead through transition.

But, anyone CAN BE prepared to respond to change and to effectively navigate through change. In order to do so, it’s very important to not only understand the barriers to change, but the personal insecurities that change brings, and have a process to address them.
 
Only then can we lead effective transition, in which people who view and approach change from various perspectives can still participate in a productive transition and growth process, whatever their role in that process.

Executive Success Lies in Management
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Becoming an executive is by no means an easy walk in the park. Leading a company takes a great deal of effort and responsibility. The best leaders are those who have an innate ability to apprehend and relate to people on every level. However, as an executive you may not always have the time to connect with what is often a large staff. So, a good executive will understand that in order to lead an organization and its members efficiently, there must be an amalgamation of upward management skills as well as empathy to recognize the needs of those below. By doing so, you’re not only setting your team up for success, but it also gives you the opportunity to focus your time and efforts on more demanding issues. Here are five helpful suggestions to consider when managing a large company:

Be the decision-maker, but don’t do it on your own. 

While it is true that ultimately, the final decision comes down to the executive, it doesn’t mean you have to make it on your own. Bringing the right people together during the decision-making process allows for new ideas and different perspectives.

Encourage collaboration. 

Stress the importance of teamwork. Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Give the projects that are capable of being handled without your assistance to your employees and encourage your team to work together to complete the task.

Facilitate problem-solving. 

Provide your employees the space needed to work as a team to solve problems.By doing so, you create a culture of individuals who can tackle difficulties while working together; consequently giving you time to focus your attention on more pressing matters.

Manage up and across.

It is critical that you forge new relationships with your peers, your bosses’ peers, your external counterparts, and in some cases, the media, board members, and government officials as well. By leveraging your authority and supplying the necessary resources and contacts, your team is able to get the project done with little assistance from you as possible.

Observe but don’t suffocate.

Monitor projects in a reassuring way by offering suggestions and feedback. If goals need to be revised, give your team the room to achieve those revised goals in the way they see fit. Innovation and creativity are the lifeblood to any organization.

Remember, your team is there for a reason. After you hire your team, set the strategy, define the goal, and get out of the way!