Successful change management process is deeply rooted in effective leadership. Lewin is among those that first pointed out the vital role of leadership in change management. Effective leaders understand the importance of placing enough cushions in the change management process so as to weaken the power of the forces that resists change.
There are approaches to change management that an organization can adopt, the bottom-top and top-down methodology. The method that management decides to choose is immaterial provided that sound leadership is integrated into the change management policy. In the bottom up approach, users convey change requests to management using some type of formal correspondence such as a standard request form, memo or e-mail message.
At a minimum, the change request form should include the name of the person requesting the change, date of request, date the change is needed, priority nature of the requested change, a thorough description of the change request, a description of any anticipated effects of the change on the overall fortune of the company, and fallback or backup plan just in case things does not go according to plan.
One of the major reasons why many organizations fail to successfully implement fruitful changes in processes and the way things are done in a company is due to the fact that the relationship between forces for change and forces resisting change are not being properly managed in most cases where change is being implemented.
The rest of this article is devoted to discussing strategy of integrating change management into the overall leadership plan of an organization.
HOW TO MANAGE CHANGE PROCESS TO OVERCOME THE EFFECTS OF THE OPPOSING FORCES TO CHANGES
One of the major aim of change management stratify is to weaken resistance in the overall change management process. This to a great extent can be done by leveraging on the some of the leadership skills and negotiation.
MAKE EMPLOYEES OF A COMPANY UNDERSTANDS THE REASON BEHIND THE CHANGE: most changes in modern day business management is made largely due to strategic decisions. The introduction of the use of new software, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) for example could be implemented to help a company eliminate the silos nature of most organizational information system.
PUTTING THE TRAINING INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE: the resistance force will be weaken if the employees and users of a proposed system are assured that adequate training will be provided to help smoothen the transition process that is associated with most change implementation. Employees in accounting department will be happy to embrace the deployment of new accounting software if they are sure of getting all the operational and technical training on how to use the new piece of that best accounting software.
ASSURE EMPLOYEES OF THE SAFETY OF THEIR JOB: many employees fear that with every change come layoffs. Management should come to terms with employees regarding the safety of their jobs.
ALLOW THE EMPLOYEES PARTICIPATE IN THE DECISION: ask for the opinions of employees after making the problem that needs to be solved by change known to them.
ESTABLISH A CLEAR LINE OF COMMUNICATION: employees will be less likely to resist changes when they have a clear line of communication. This open line of communication gives employees the chance to make their objections to the changes known before they are implemented. A lost managers do however believe that having an open communication line does not really make much difference as to what will be eventually implemented, well, this is a subject to debate.
ALLOW THE CHANGE TO BE CONSOLIDATED BEFORE MAKING ANOTHER CHANGE: the fact that humans are afraid of changes is a problem. This problem is even made worse when the changes come in rapid succession. Good leadership of change management entails allowing time for the already implemented change to be consolidated before implementing another change. Employees will feel less daunted with new things to learn when they have been given time to digest the change that has been put in place. This time also allows them to see the impact of the change that has been implemented. Note that this will be more of a problem than advantage when the previous change process did not turn out well, managing resistance at this point is a major management functions.
USE CHANGE AGENT (CONSULTANTS): because consultants are skilled in the process of change management, they bring in ideas from previous similar situation that they have dealt with in the past. They will benefit the change process for the following reasons;
- They will have an independent unbiased view of the situation
- They have expertise in the type of change that is needed to solve an identified problem
- There will be no fear of politically engineering the change process.
- The consultant will not be acting under pressure of any kind
It is no longer news that the intensifying competition for scarce resources and the ever increasing demand from customers and other stakeholders are pushing firms to become more flexible, more aware of their environment and more proactive. To live up to this expectation, proper change management process should be what every company should strive for. Business models are made more agile and flexible so as to accommodate the almost constant changes that characterises businesses in this age and time.
The problem that most business leaders however face is managing this change to their advantage. This article has attempted to give suggestions on what can be done to weaken the resistance that comes from the resisting agent to business changes. Leveraging the lessons of good leadership is key to effective change management.