Is it Managing Change, Change Management, or How Management Looks at Change?
In my work as a change management speaker for industry meetings, I as a change management speaker generally find that change management processes take one direction. The usual change management direction is that management advises, even dictates change, and all of the good soldiers are expected to quickly conform and cope.
Easier Said than Done
Though the article is dated, the prestigious Harvard Business Review talked of The Hard Side of Management in their October 2005 issue that is as relevant now as then (the italics are mine):
“Managing change is tough, but part of the problem is that there is little agreement on what factors most influence transformation initiatives. Ask five executives to name the one factor critical for the success of these programs, and you’ll probably get five different answers. That’s because each manager looks at an initiative from his or her viewpoint and, based on personal experience, focuses on different success factors.”
Imagine then, your company, any company, undergoing a major change. Imagine several executives, from different departments, each telling their departments variations of the same change plan, or managers assuming new and different change responsibilities, or even more problematic, each manager espousing a different philosophy or viewpoint on the changes ahead.
Under any of the circumstances I’ve touched upon above, properly managing change becomes so difficult, no one knows what to do and the end result is chaos, stress, pushback or an unpredictable combination of all three. Even your best employees, those who go along with just about anything, may “revolt.”
Change Management Keynote Speaker Mike Hourigan holds keynote speeches on the following topics:
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As a change management motivational speaker who has spoken at dozens of industry meetings, I have heard an entire spectrum of horror stories. The stories range from plant engineers wanting production stopped so they can measure for new machinery (that no one in production knows about) to the marketing department insisting on sales projections for a new product line before the sales team has any knowledge of what they are.
What is Your Role?
One of the primary roles of management during change, be it an acquisition, merger, new product lines, new services – most anything, is not to boldly decree a set of tasks that must be accomplished and within set dates, but to get employees through the change beforehand.
This calls for more than talking, it calls for active listening. It isn’t about managing change but how management looks at change.
If the management team doesn’t view the changes in a unified way, and if the information is not relayed with precisely the same message throughout the organization, the result will often be (in addition to everything else) significant delays. The change process must be a repeatable and logical process.
Therefore, if the plant engineering team shows up to take measurements, everyone in production will know why. If the sales department asks for product code numbers and specifications from marketing, the “conversation” should be virtually seamless, representing a shared knowledge of the process.
In change management, the last thing anyone wants to hear is, “This is all news to me!” It is up to every manager to make sure that no news is unexpected, and that everyone is in agreement that they can meet a common goal.
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