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Difficult Change Management Know what is important for effective change management By Enrique Ruiz In general, all of us are resistant to change. We like our routines and the predictability of our life. Even when things are not as ideal as they could be, as humans, we tend to repeat the same habits of conformity because these actions are familiar and the outcome is fairly constant. On the surface, this notion of the ‘fear of change’ seems understandable. Change involves risk and a deviation from the norm. After all, any potential rewards are conceptual compared to the tried & true results of the present. Some individuals crave this unknown state while others resist it at all costs. Change requires belief, curiosity, focus and determination. Often times it involves dissatisfaction with the present in pursuit of a better something else. Will this improvement translate into better relationships, more profit, increased market share or even improved customer satisfaction? Leadership provides a normal cohesive front that keeps an organization moving forward but sometimes circumstances demand a new course. This is where our leadership is really tested. I have had those difficult moments in my career where I had to sell a new concept to the team that I knew was not going to be popular. I have also had the opportunity to consult with organizations that desperately need some change but are afraid to make any waves. The needs test our leadership strength and will. Both of the scenarios that I referred to above did not involve any layoffs but they did involve restructuring of operations, shifts and personnel on a scale affecting hundreds of individuals. The adrenaline rush tests the culture of the organization, and the mission. The workforce invariably yields to the leader that has demonstrated effective strategic thinking results and a palpable interest in the individual(s). Organizations that do not have this level of interaction between management and the workforce face uphill challenges that can create havoc at best, and most likely empty whirlwinds of commotion that leave the organization in a status quo state. Successful change management requires buy-in amongst the ranks and a united empowered front. Having a leader of an organization communicate “this is what we are going to do” to the entire rank and file workforce without having mid-level managers buy-in will most likely result in a net effect of zero change. Leaders need to make sure that the following elements are discussed openly with the team, with clear lines of responsibility defined, to effect the change desired: • Current Assessment Results • Reason for the change and benefits • Impact to organization and management ranks • Process modifications necessary • Tools and investment necessary to effect the positive change • Communication Strategy (Internal and External) • Retraining Needs • Evaluation Methods • Risks and Opportunities • Timetable for Implementation and Evaluation Interactive Leadership with a Human Touch • Built-In Schedule and Resource Margins for the Unknowns • Rewards Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, dealt with change management throughout his career shifting direction, cancelling products and stopping production lines to change materials mid-stream to name a few disrupting change management actions. To many, he evoked frustration and exasperation, yet beneath the rhetoric there was an underlying level of respect for the visionary guru who built one of the most successful companies in the world. Because of that foundation of respect, and Steve Jobs reciprocal belief in his team, employees and the global market have in large part ridden the wave of innovation and quality that his team has produced. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Winston Churchill: Former Prime Minister of The United Kingdom How can you organize, motivate and improve your organization’s performance? Give ample opportunities for team members to express their ideas and give public credit to those who make worthy contributions no matter how small. After all, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Continuously scanning the business environment while building an infrastructure of respect is paramount for effective change management. In one of my scenarios above, it was one of the most difficult days of my career when I had to stand before a team of 500 yet it is one of my proudest moments with the results achieved. In the other scenario, fear of upsetting the “apple cart” and individuals not wanting to accept outside ideas… status quo reigned, profitability remained lackluster and the customer entertained other suppliers. Change management involves maintaining direction while adjusting course in a sea of possibilities as the company weathers competitive forces, capitalizes on growth opportunities or defends positions already secured. Some companies are too slow to react which invariably means a tough road ahead while for others it is their early demise. Where would familiar names like Blackberry, Blockbuster, Borders, Circuit City, Eastman Kodak, JC Penney, Radio Shack or even Research in Motion (i.e.- Blackberry) be today had they embraced difficult change management sooner? LE Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz is President of PositivePsyche.Biz Corp, a management consulting and training firm in the Washington DC area. He earned an MBA in the UK and has led teams in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and across the US. He is PgMP , CM and CDE certified, has managed operations up to 15,000 people strong, is an inventor with a family of seven and an author of five books. Visit www.PositivePsyche.Biz Twitter @RuizSpeaks 63 leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014


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