Change Management Strategies
Change Management Strategies: 6 Ways To Take Your Organization To The Next
Level With Change Management
By ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D.
Today's rapidly changing technology, the economy's roller-coaster ride, the
constant mergers and acquisitions among companies, upsizing, downsizing and
resizing, and, of course, our country's response to terrorism have forced almost
all of us to change, in some cases almost daily.
Adapting to new demands is an important mechanism for both personal and
organizational survival. Individuals and groups that do it well seem to be more
successful than those that resist and accept the inevitable slowly. But change
is so difficult and is almost always resisted.
Many ingredients are required to move from the present to your organization’s
desired change. The process takes time, vision, role modeling, symbols and
benefits for all involved. During the necessary incremental transitional
changes, motivators and training are necessary. The organization must create an
environment that fosters new learning and behaviors -- that "persuades"
employees to change.
6 Requirements For Making Organizational Changes In Individuals, Teams,
Departments and Divisions:
1. Motivation is essential
Before your employees are really motivated to work at change, they must be
convinced of the personal and professional benefits to themselves, as well as to
their organization. In addition, management must realize that work will slow
during the transitional process. Often temporary help must be brought in or
overtime authorized to help get the more mundane tasks accomplished. Learning is
often awkward, requiring a great deal of practice before new habits are
automated. Practice, of course, means making mistakes and taking time to correct
Because of these factors, commitment is mandatory at the highest levels of the
organization. Upper management in particular must create a clear, realistic
vision. All too often, organizations develop vision statements that are too
vague or idealistic. The vision must be something people can buy into. It must
be "symbolized" with a theme, and it must have its champions at the highest
level of the organization.
Once realistic themes have been developed, upper management must create a
mission, goals and objectives specific to individual departments. Then
management must sell these missions, goals and objectives to members of the
2. Procedural and cultural changes require working with the latest tools of
persuasion, negotiation and learning.
Persuasion needs a user-friendly approach. User-friendly in this context means
giving employees an opportunity to vent, to express their own ideas and to make
mistakes. It means that managers involved in the process must remain positive
and approachable, and have an encouraging demeanor.
At this point managers should coach and encourage rather than criticize or
punish. Self-righteous, critical or condescending behavior will only frighten
people back into their old tried-and-true behaviors. In helping employees adapt
to new conditions, managers must not assume an “I'm right you're wrong” stance.
Workers immediately will become defensive. Moreover, they will tune the managers
out, become argumentative or passively resist the changes they're being asked to
3. It pays to reward success.
Remember, success builds on itself. By rewarding success, you will create
internal champions from among those who are higher risk takers and more aware of
the value of the new outcomes. They will become your role models and persuaders.
Others will follow them more easily.
4. Promote changes with workshops
Part of the change process involves conducting teambuilding and management
development workshops to promote change, get input on needs and work with
different management styles.
Keep in mind that people respond better to workshop exercises that have "face
validity" -- that is, whose content is related to the work people actually
perform. The workshop should combine process and content. Participants must be
encouraged to learn more about one another personally, and to build a level of
trust. They should be given content-specific tasks to perform together. This
will enable them not only to improve their actual working conditions and move
toward the desired process or cultural changes, but also to work more
effectively with each other in the future.
5. Launch the change management program
While smaller companies and organizations might be able to just dig in and start
the process, in larger organizations it may be necessary to create some drama.
Thus the firm might want to develop a large-scale kickoff program involving as
many people as possible
This all-day affair should be exciting and motivational, and encourage the
participation and ideas of all attendees, who should be provided with a means of
ensuring their ongoing involvement in the process.
6. Alignment is necessary
Too often, alignment behind a company's goals, objectives, values and beliefs is
taken for granted. This is a potentially fatal mistake. So starting from the
top, the highest levels within the organization must agree on the values and
desired cultural changes. Then they must communicate these and get a buy-in at
other levels of the organization. You must ensure that the words and slogans
being used have the same meaning across all levels.
When all is said and done, change can be exciting, and if managed correctly, it
will be a vital component in the vitality and continued growth of your
organization. So go for it!
Specializing in people and processes in the workplace for more than 30 years,
professional development and management consultant, ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D. can
help your organization successfully institute changes within your organization.
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