Managing Change

A generation has grown up since the scientist and novelist C.P. Snow wrote that, until this century, social change was "so slow it would pass unnoticed in one person's lifetime. That is no longer so. The rate of change has increased so much that our imagination can't keep up." In overcoming resistance to change, leaders must fully understand the change process to move their organizations successfully through the turmoil of today's economic environment into the future.

The introduction and management of change are two of the most critical elements of leadership. In addition to facing more and faster changes, leaders are confronted with too many new choices. The great majority of leaders come to rely on instinct and experience rather than a full understanding of the change process. Some leaders oppose the inevitable changes required by their organizations and become "change resistors" instead of "change managers."

From observation of the change processes in a number of organizations, lessons in positive change management have emerged. In summary, to be successful change managers, leaders commit to being perpetual learners. They continue learning the ways of their organizations and exploring new ideas to nurture the business. The successful change manager acknowledges and manages organizational rumors, past cultures and current realities leading the work group toward new sets of priorities and values. Change managers address and reduce the fear of change that naturally exists in the work group. They build trust and confidence rather than attempting to manipulate their people.

These leaders are willing to compromise and lead the decision-making process toward a culture that rewards new behaviors. They allow the work group to take ownership of change and make it their own rather than ownership remaining with the initiator. Today's workforce trusts its leaders' actions more than it trusts their words, which places new behavioral demands on leaders to act in parallel with their pronouncements. Change managers follow up and reinforce required changes, rewarding new behaviors early in the process, thus shaping future behaviors. And most importantly, leadership integrity is one of the most critical variables in successful completion of the change process. For more information about successful change processes, please contact us.