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Managing change as a strategic imperative

Managing change as a strategic imperative – Dr. George Ayee

The focus for change management is on people; to ensure that people in the organization are ready, able and willing to accept and implement change as a strategic imperative and as an ongoing requirement to achieve business and organizational success. Managing change is focused on managing the human response to change and being cognizant of the fact that change is not easy as individuals like to hold on to the comfort zone.

John Kotter on the subject of change said “The rate of change is exponential, not only do we have political uncertainties, but technology keeps spiraling, and globalization creates interesting ties between countries. That means that something that affects one is felt by others a long ways away”

The acceleration of change presents a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. Change is a given and organizations and individuals will continue to go through change. This suggests that for businesses and organizations to be successful now and in the future it is imperative to develop the capability of changing quickly and successfully and not just responding to the waves of change; have the aability to shape and lead change with strategic intent and excellence; develop change management as a core competence within the organization and not left to a few change apostles. It is also important that organizations, businesses, and individuals are prepared and able to anticipate change, be ready for change, embrace change and navigate successfully through change.

In managing change, leaders should endeavor to address the impacts of change before theyoccur by initiating a series of strategic and tactical activities to guide in effectively leading and supporting positive change within areas of the business. It is critical to inform and prepare staff on how to deal with the new changes; facilitate the letting go of ingrained practices and moving towards new and efficient ways of doing business; and create a climate of change agility.

It is interesting to note that in spite of all the books written on change management, publication of lessons learnt, the development of numerous change models, the availability of change tools and templates, the socialization of best practices on change management, the needle has not significantly shifted in favor of program or project success. Why is that? The answer lies in how leaders and individuals view change and the management of change.

First of all managing change is really hard and effective leadership of change demands time and attention to the change management process. Secondly, leaders underestimate the potential power of resistance in assuming that articulating the business case for change and attempting to paint a picture of the preferred future will guarantee success with most people going along. We know that announcing the destination is not equal to successfully managing the journey of change. Thirdly, most leaders are not ready to give up control because change threatens their sense of control. These leaders see change as disruptions to the entrenched status quo and view change as shifting the balance of power in light of who is really in charge.

Following are a few suggestions in managing change as a strategic imperative:

  • Ensure adequate planning and articulate the change rationale to employees

  • Manage resistance to new ideas or processes and address people’s concerns with change

  • Manage rumors or misinformation about the upcoming changes

  • Address fears around layoffs, new roles and responsibilities and training

  • Help employees to manage the changes while continuing to perform their current responsibilities

  • Create a climate where change is seen as positive for the organization and its employees; by effectively communicating with employees and stakeholders

  • Ensure that the dissemination of information to employees is just-in-time, relevant and transparent

  • Link the impact of successful change to business outcomes and growth strategies; and

  • Ensure active and visible executive sponsorship to communicate effectively the impacts of the changes to employees in a meaningful and honest manner.

Managing change should be positioned as a strategic imperative if organizations and businesses are to reap the full benefit of what change brings. The following questions should help begin the process of framing and positioning change management as a strategic imperative.

  • How can we take advantage of the opportunities change brings?

  • How can we prepare ourselves and others to embrace and be resilient through change?

  • How can leaders recruit a volunteer army of employees or apostles to champion change?

  • How can middle managers become advocates for change coming from the executive bench?

  • How do we introduce change in an organization already experiencing “initiative overload” and a range of on-going corporate projects? 

George Ayee is the Founder/President of Transformation4Change and has a passion for helping organizations lead change successfully, build change competence and agility, and support organizations to help employees be resilient through change. You can contact George Ayee at info@transformation4change.com 

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