“Hurry Up and Change!”
By: Mark Hordes
Mark Hordes Management Consultants, LLC
We all know the danger signs! People don’t return phone calls. Leaders say yes but don’t follow-up on their commitments. Good people leave. Too many priorities to address change now. The time is not right. And, it costs too much!
The cost of ignorance can be quite high!
Resistance to change is not new and we all understand that during times of change there can be positive and negative resistance.
What is perhaps new, though, is that there really are some very effective ways in which the resistance to change can be managed with positive results.
First Things First
Managing change is the result of five fundamental elements that are actively going on in an organization, within functional areas and at the individual level of relationship all the time.
1. Employees during times of change need to feel comfortable that that have control over what is going to happen. Without this feeling of control, active resistance will take hold and be demonstrated through either with drawing or proactive verbal resistance. In this regard, a good rule of thumb is to not only share with employees what is going to change but more importantly what is not going to change.
Focus on these things:
- Deliver change training New Skills/Training Current Assignments
- New Business strategy Case for Change Core business
- Change Metrics Scorecard New Accountability Tracking Process
- Sponsor for Change Sponsor Active Plan Time Line/Middle Mgmt. Support
2. Predictability is also important in managing change.
Employees need to fully understand the time line for the change and when key events will occur. This not only allows people to have time to plan but also gets themselves ready to meet the new challenge.
3. Capacity and Personal absorption levels need to be considered as well. What this means is that people can manage only so much change at one time. It has been said an organizations threshold for change at any given time is three major initiatives. An individual’s personal threshold is probably less than that. A good way to determine this is to conduct some focus groups with affected employees and ask about how they are managing the change. And, also what more can be done to help them absorb what is occurring. Sometimes simple things like communications updates, reviews of time lines, personal visits with functional change agents and sponsors as well and Lunch and Learn sessions to find out how everything is moving along help as well.
4. Context. What is meant by context for the change revolves around both internal and external environmental issues. With transformations many things change with internal departments and our view of competitors change as well. Internally, our roles and responsibilities may shift from an individual doing a singular job to one who now has responsibility to coach and be part of a self-managed team that has a new focus where everyone is responsible for developing multiple skills and jobs.
5. Level of resolve. It is very possible to increase our personal resolve during times of change. This is accomplished by first understanding that we are personally affected by change, like or not. It has been said many times, that during times of personal crisis we all grow and learn from the experience. Providing training on change fundamentals and how each of us deals with changes on a personal and professional level helps increase our resolve to effectively manage the change.
Impact of Change on Performance
In most change efforts, there is predicable drop off in performance due to the implementation of new processes, orientations and systems. The response is a natural reaction to major change. The goal of change management is to reduce the depth and duration of the “performance gap”. One can assume that when we start a new project there is a steady state and as soon as the process begins there is a drop due to employees often waiting to find out how it will impact them. A fast recovery for the drop and depth of the drop is to conduct a change impact analysis before the implementation.
Find out who is going to be impacted and in what way. How are other functional areas going to respond and what is the overall readiness for change in the organization?
Knowing these elements before the implementation will enable your drop to be short lived over time.
-Overcoming Change Resistance
-One model that has worked well for organizations is the creation of a 4X4 matrix that has the following sections.
Change and the Resistance Model
I. Resistors: Label those in the organization that you believe will and are resistive to the change.
II. Let it Happen People: Next block are individuals that are neutral to the change and will neither support nor try to stop the transformation.
III. Help it Happen People: These are professionals who are willing to dedicate some per cent age of their time to help sponsor and move the effort forward.
IV. Make it Happen People: These are the valued sponsors who are charted to push the rock up hill.
Their philosophy is we will make this happen and do what it takes to make it successful.
Once you have labeled each section develop a tactical plan to move people from one section to another. In one circumstance a divisional manager was quite vocal about not supporting the change until it was discovered that the root cause of his resistance was that it was not his idea.
The strategy that was developed to move him to the Let it Happen Box was as simple as developing an internal news story with his picture on the front cover with an interview. Later we found out that most people believed that the was his idea. Consequently, his attitude and motivation changed quickly.
The project transformation proceeded on course and was ultimately quite successful. Remember keep brain storming how you can move everyone up at least one notch. Now can you make strong resistors into a strong Make It Happen person. Probably not but as many people as you can move into that top box the better.
Change Plan Approach
Over the past many years, the author has been at the forefront of some major change efforts. Looking back on these engagements several best practices have emerged. Ideally, this short road map will be help to you in your change journey:
5 Best Practices to Manage Change
1. Conduct an organizational and business process impact analysis first.
2. Develop a sponsor strategy along with the activities that sponsors will personally do.
3. Develop an ownership and involvement plan. Roll the process down through the organization.
4. Create an implementation strategy that includes components such as:
-job redesign strategy
-implementation and support plan
5. Create a measurement plan
“The things that Executive s fear the most is the threat of rapid destabilization. The second is the complexity of successfully handling change.” (Lance Berger, “Mastering the Change Management Market. Achieving a Lasting Competitive Advantage.”)
Remember, if you don’t manage change, change will manage you. Be a proactive catalyst for change not a reactive casualty of change. If all else fails eat your Cheerios and hope for the best!