Making it happen – driving change management By Steve Shellabear • Director at dancing lion training & consultancy ltd
Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.
We all know that good ideas count for nothing unless they are put into practice. Yet implementing change, at a personal and organisational level, can at best be challenging and even a daunting task.
There are many reasons for this: the culture we work in, the pull of the status quo, and daily strategic and operational demands of the business, can all divert our attention and take us off track. Our own blind spots can cloud our vision and cause us to postpone key actions.
Every situation has its own unique opportunities and constraints, however, if you or your managers are spending too much time and energy on chasing results, troubleshooting performance problems and trying to get back on track, something needs to change.
So how do you go about it? Here are some ideas to consider:
Can you sharpen and maintain your focus to make something happen?
The first step requires your concentrated attention, your focus.
To focus means: ‘to adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.’
Are you clear where you are starting from? Sounds obvious but an honest assessment of where you/the organisation are now is required before you start action. The organisational conditions may be complex, political and difficult to assess. In which case there are many tools available to help: GAP, SWOT, PEST analysis as well as systems based psychodynamic approaches. The tool you choose should be congruent with your organisation’s objectives and culture.
Is your organisation ready for change?
There will be likely varying levels of support for any change initiative.
You will have advocates and supporters as well as undecided people and opponents. But you need to ask: is your organisation ready to receive guidance, instruction and pressure to change?
Unless the answer is yes, or you have sufficient support to drive through change you will fall at the first hurdle.
How good are you and your managers at:
o Managing your own time and energy
o Communicating the message
o Allocating tasks
o Monitoring progress
Again, if the answer is variable, then some work should be done in strengthening core management competencies.
Failure to address, for whatever reason, will compromise the outcome sought.
Change management competencies
Are you a Bear Grylls or climbing guide type? If you and your colleagues were attempting to climb a mountain for the first time, or even going on a lengthy hike, unless you are an experienced outdoor type, it would be prudent to enlist the support of a guide. The guide would know the terrain and could recommend the best route as well as vital safety measures. In the same way, when embarking on an organisational change journey the support of an experienced change agent is invaluable in recognising blind spots and weaknesses in change management.
Who you choose as your guide is one of the most important elements in the change management process. Here are some pointers:
o If you are in business your coach should have a business background. They should understand the organisational environment.
o Have access to a range of change management tools to bypass potential failures up-front.
o Understand people and know the emotional territory that you, the management team and frontline staff, are likely to encounter. This includes the defences people resort to when feeling anxious or threatened.
o Know-how to inspire, motivate, and coach.
o Be available to provide practical support when you need it.
Realise and make the difference you want to see taking place in your organisation
If you are driving the change initiative, people will look to you as a prospective role model. Whilst there is no universal style, it will be important that you:
o Understand, maintain and improve your executive leadership impact through communication and relationship management.
o Know how to become the personal context for change, hold the vision in place and create the conditions whereby possibility is accepted and gives people a purpose to make the change.
Summary – Some final thoughts:
o Without effective implementation a goal or objectives are simply words with a positive intention.
o If viewed in the appropriate way, the organisational change initiative, whatever the outcome, can be the catalyst for a personal change that will leave you stronger, more knowledgeable, wiser and even fulfilled.
o Accomplishing anything of value in life is rarely easy – and if it were we probably wouldn’t value it. The difference between success and failure can often be whether we keep going – and don’t give up before we succeed.
Steve Shellabear is a Director at dancing lion training & consultancy ltd
Dancing lion, in association with MAD (Make a Difference) Executive Leadership, is pleased to offer tailored change management support sessions. Support can be provided in a group setting or in one-to-one executive coaching sessions or a combination of both.