Managing Change

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Managing Change

No organisation can stand still and many understand that change is a constant but to some employees this can be unsettling and when they question the reason why they are labelled as cynical, or resistant despite the fact that there are often valid reasons for their negative reactions, often rooted in the way in which previous change was communicated, or managed, or because of a clear gap between what was promised before and what was delivered. So change then becomes a 'dirty word'.

Many texts have been written on Change but the basic theory that underpins successful change in any situation is that for people to want to change they need to understand that the future will be better than the present and to believe that getting to the future is achievable.

So if the way things are now is particularly comfortable for them and suits them well, any inclination that change is required may not be welcome.

This therefore puts the onus on management for making change successful. Management know more than employees about the general conditions of a business, what the forecasts are, how the market looks, what the competition is doing, or in the public sector, how the latest spending review effects them. To many employees the current situation may be comfortable and even look secure. They could be busy, even overworked; what possible cause for concern is there? Why should they believe the manager who comes along to say everything needs to change? Surely this is just another scare tactic or a ruse to undertake a programme of cost reduction.

What many managers do next and when faced with this resistance is delegate the responsibility by creating new posts with titles such as Change Champion, Change Agent or Performance Consultant; Project managers may be appointed or external Consultants brought in to facilitate the changes. Temporary functions are also created and labelled: Project teams, Action teams, Change teams, Delivery teams. Whilst all of this activity acknowledges and confirms that change may be necessary and necessary the importance of management taking a leadership role must never be underestimated or ignored. Without the direction provided by the seniors in the organisation and the creation of a vision of a "better future" few employees are likely to follow. Managing change is challenging but the key is in the word "managing". When done well it can make the difference between success and failure or in more extreme cases between triumph and catastrophe.

Managers really are the "X" factor in a changing environment. At ValueAdding.com we provide support for organisations at all levels. We help managers understand their role and the impact of change on people. We also work with Change Champions (whatever their title) to ensure that change is delivered with and through not despite the people who will make it a success and with good management, sustainable.

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