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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The times they are a changin...

...Bob Dylan 1964…

Change Management is a high profile subject, why is that…?

Simply, because change affects all of us, it’s continuous and very few people deal with it well, in fact plenty of organisations don’t manage change well at all…
First, people are perfectly happy with the concept of change; we change our car, our holiday destination, our clothes and careers without drama, stress or anxiety; providing we choose then life is good…
It is not change itself that is the challenge; it is how it is introduced and perceived. If people are in control of change, they are generally happy; if change (positive or negative) is imposed upon them they are generally unhappy.
Rather than Change Management, we should really call it Choice Management. If I take away someone’s choices about the options they have, or actually make choices for them, they are likely to push back. It is this push back that affects organisations and teams during a period of change; Change Management is using techniques and tactics such that the negative impact of the process is mitigated…
Why don’t people like change…?
Tony Robbins describes the six basic human needs that motivate us; Certainty, Variety, Significance, Love & Connection, Growth & Contribution. When change is imposed on people it affects some or all of these needs – and the effect is stress induced poor performance, reduced productivity and even anger and depression.
Imagine that we need to change the job that someone is doing, move them to a different location, change their title and the way they are remunerated. Whilst we could argue that the need for Variety is being met, it is likely that the desired levels of Certainty, Significance, Connection and Growth and Contribution.

That person will attempt to fulfil those needs by fighting against the Change which has been perceived as a threat – essentially, people feel threatened when imposed change takes them outside of their comfort zone…

What can organisations do to cope better…?

There are two strategies that organisations can use to manage the change process - there is a third that applies to Entrepreneur and Transformational Companies too;
  • Reactive Management...
This is where as little change as possible is implemented until it is absolutely necessary. Then a painful seismic shift has to be made, dramatic painful change is imposed on people with little thought for the consequences upon them – the panic button has been hit…
  • Proactive Management...
This is where change is planned and communicated effectively – change becomes almost continuous, and yet there are no “panics” or shocks to the system. People are more comfortable and relaxed about the consequences because they feel they are involved in the process and have a degree of control over their destiny.
Clearly, the Proactive approach is more effective, enabling change to be effected whilst maintaining productivity, efficiency and profitability. The symptoms of Proactive Management are;
  • Clarity of Vision, Mission and Purpose
  • Frequent Communication at all levels
  • Bad news delivered quickly and privately to individuals
  • Good news is delivered and celebrated publically
  • Team Spirit is a core value of the company
Change will of course result in winners and losers; it is the process of handling both that determines the success of the process…

How can individuals deal with the consequences of change…?

If change is imposed on you, the first thing to do is recognise that there is a process to dealing with change; one that can be anticipated and managed.
The Kubler Ross Change Curve plots the emotional journey that can be experienced as a consequence of imposed changes.
Understanding the process is a key first step to coping and dealing with it. Some years ago I was fired from my job – and I thought that my world had ended, in hindsight I recognise the process I went through.
Also in hindsight, in reality it was the best thing that ever happened to me and it gave me the impetus to change direction and start out on my own – and the rest as they say is history.
As a Coach I work with people in tough and challenging situations, helping them and their organisation deal with change; what I have learned, and something that is worth bearing in mind is that whatever the change is, however painful it may appear at the time – there is always a bright future with more opportunity available than you may recognise or believe.

What tips would you give our readers for capitalising on change…?

Change appeals to some more than others –my need for Variety outweighs my need for Certainty so I enjoy change; a 40 year career actually terrifies me…
First, I would be honest with yourself about what you want, what motivates you and inspires you.
Don’t define yourself only by your professional status and position; be prepared to change career, retrain and engage in both personal and professional development programs; go to every seminar and workshop you can, read a book a week and explore new principles and knowledge.
Remember, you are working to live; not living to work. Far too many people are identified simply by what they do between 9 & 5, so that when their identity, status and influence is negatively affected through change, they find it difficult to cope.
Your job is to make yourself a highly valuable and transferable commodity. Make your personal brand and professional network so powerful that if you happen to become an unfortunate casualty of change in one organisation, you have the best opportunity possible to be hired by another; perhaps in a different sector.

It could just be the best thing that ever happens to you..

David Holland MBA can be contacted

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