Managing Change

The ability to manage change successfully is a skill to be valued. If you have managed change in your job or a previous job, be sure that appears  in your resume’s lead in “Summary of Experience and Accomplishments” and also in your cover letter. If you don’t have that experience, try to obtain it in your current position by asking to be included in whatever change issues are in process or anticipated. Major change doesn’t happen often, but small changes are part of everyday organizational life.

The following is a mini-book review of a new book by Barbara A. Trautlein, PH.D. entitled “Change Intelligence; Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks”

The ability to handle constant change can mean the difference between organizational success and failure. Even though there are many tactics for managing change, the author cites research indicating a high failure rate for major organizational changes.

Change Intelligence book cover“We know a lot about organizational transformation…We’ve developed multiple models for leading change…We’ve conducted studies and found that positive change requires, among other things, a commitment from senior management, a ‘guiding coalition,’ and a ‘compelling vision.’ With all of this knowledge and all of these methodologies, why do 70% or more of major change initiatives fail? It’s not that any of these models or tools are wrong or useless – they are just incomplete. Successful transformation requires more than book knowledge and theory. To lead change, change leaders must know themselves.”

The author refers to CQ as “Change Intelligence” which she defines as the skill set required to lead a team or company through major change. ”You  can’t just tolerate change… you have to take charge of your career and your company and lead change.”

Adapted from a book review in Staffing Success, published by the American Staffing Association.

My Spin On Managing and Effecting Change

I think Trautlein got it right when she refers to the need for real leadership to effect major change.

From my personal experience the process of effecting change is two-fold:

The first part is a semi-democratic determination and planning process… the second part is autocratic implementation!

Part 1 – Determine why change is called for; what will the impact be of the change?;  what will be different as a result of the change?; what are the component steps for of this change?, etc.

An example is in order. An organization wants to centralize several administrative functions; the branch offices will no longer perform these administrative functions – rather they will be concentrated in a single central corporate office.

The steps to do this should be determined collaboratively… carefully and slowly. Lots of input from all – be sure everyone with a dog in the fight gets to weigh in on how this will impact them and their department. The individual decisions that come out of this process are determined almost democratically – a consensus is necessary on each to proceed. If it cannot be gained, then either there is not a need to be fulfilled or the need has not been thoroughly explored.

The point is that the different implementation steps to effect the change should be determined very collaboratively – virtually democratically. When this has been done… and each step to be taken has been documented and all parties have reviewed it… the person in charge… the leader…says “OK…anything else we need to decide? Have we covered all the bases? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Once we pull the trigger on this I need to approve any and all deviations from the plan.”

And then part 2 kicks in – the implementation of the change. And it needs to be done autocratically; no deviation from the plan without authorization. Why? Otherwise, people will pick and choose what parts of the plan they will ignore. In our example, a branch manager may want to continue to purchase office supplies from a favorite vendor rather than follow the plan that included centralized purchase of such things by the central corporate office.

If there is a flaw in the plan, it will surface pretty early in the process in which case a review of that aspect of the plan is called for.

In summary, organizational changes need to planned and determined democratically by all impacted and then implemented autocratically by the leader. Without a strong hand at the helm implementing, success will be hard to achieve.

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