How Not to do change management

I received quite a few calls over the past year to talk about managing change. The enquirer typically wants me to ‘motivate’ their staff to accept the structural changes that were in place because of the fast moving business landscape. They want their people to accept all the changes, increase their morale overnight and create performance instantly.

I often ask if this is possible, since they have been functioning the same way for so many years.

The answer is usually “You are the expert, you know what to do.”

However, my stand is that an external speaker can help create adoption for change, but it is the management’s part to sustain change.

I have personally seen clients fail in their change management because they are too impatient, lack cultural understanding, lack proper strategy or just don’t communicate enough.

Even Peter Drucker, the great management Guru said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

A lot of leaders want to take big steps, but don’t recognise that taking a series of small steps are more important that big steps. When an organisation takes small steps forward, it recognises what works and doesn’t, within a short time. It can modify its strategy easily since things are done in small continuous movements.

I do suggest one great step forward for leaders is to constantly communicate why we need to change with their team. It is not just a once-off process, but a constant slew of messages to win people over. You may change the processes fast, but it will take a longer time to change the habits of people.

Great leaders share stories of how change was managed and how they prevailed under difficult conditions. They share what was done well and what can be done to move forward. They solicit the opinions of their team members on what needs to be different or even ask what will they do to make the difference. Great leaders know that they don’t always have ideas and recognise that in their team has ideas.

It is my firm belief that when leaders are able to hear the perspectives of the team, they make better decisions. For a good change management strategy, make a series of small steps forward and help team members focus on the success that they have made along the way.

This creates optimism in the change and also help them to adapt to it.