Leaders Are Responsible For Managing The Pace of Change

Change is a tricky thing to manage and leaders need to navigate it with caution, but avoid being fearful of it. D. Wayne Lukas once noted that “the speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack.” This means that leaders have to be very careful how they lead an organization through periods of change. If the leader is slow to adopt the change the organization will do it no faster than the leader. If timing is everything then the slow leader could destroy the hope of his organization meeting its deadlines.

Being the fastest to get through the change process is not the answer either in some cases. That is why leaders need to gauge the appropriate pace that the organization should move through the process. If this is done the organization or “pack” moves at the same speed as the leader-just fast enough to meet the needs of the organization.

Recognizing what needs to be done and setting milestones that accomplish tasks according to a leader’s timeline is essential in leading an organization through change. The pack will follow the lead animal because they know that it has the best interest of the pack at heart. An organization will follow a good leader because they too know that the leader is doing what is best for the organization. Make sure you know what needs to be done and how long it should take-people are counting on you!

Fast Tip: Milestones are necessary for gauging the success of an organization in meeting its goals.

Top 5 Mistakes Made by Organizations When Implementing Change

With the rapid changes in technology and globalization the past decade has seen organizations of all types undergo change more than ever before. The experiences of other organizations that have undergone change initiatives large and small serve to teach us about what works and what doesn’t work when trying to introduce and implement change. Though varying sources stress competing factors as critical to the success or failure of these initiatives, certain underlying themes are common among theories. In this case, we examine the “don’ts” of implementing change in an organization. Outlined below are the five most common mistakes made by organizations when introducing a change implementation program and tips for how to avoid these pitfalls.

1. Not Building a Task Force

One of the biggest mistakes senior management makes when introducing change is to assume that key management will back the proposed effort. Not developing a team dedicated to the introduction and implementation of change puts more pressure on the key drivers. Moving too fast without winning over adequate support from the organization’s leadership may cause conflict and confusion down the road. Top leaders must recruit and work with a team strategically formed to introduce and implement change. This team must be made up of influential leaders. The members should be individuals who are known for exhibiting strong relationship management skills as well as task management skills. The chosen task force will be crucial in encouraging adoption of change by staff members at all levels. Even after forming a designated task force and ensuring lower level management is on board, change leaders must remain personally involved and committed to the effort. It is important to remain enthusiastic and positive about the organization’s goals and aligning one’s thoughts and actions to support the transformation process to the end.

2. Assuming Responses to Change Will be Unanimous

If you have been reading about change management, you have undoubtedly come across the notion that staff members are likely to approach change with fear and resistance. These are common themes in a litany of challenges organizations facing change must strive to overcome. Even so, you mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone feels the exact same way. It is a common mistake to assume that everyone within an organization will be on the same page (on one end of the spectrum or the other) when it comes to change. Even fear and resistance, which are common in transformation scenarios, exhibit themselves to varying degrees in individuals.

Since individuals adopt change at different rates, evaluate who your early adopters (those likely to accept and embrace new concepts, technologies, etc.) are and leverage them in your strategy to execute change, while patiently nurturing those who are slower to accept change. Consider inducting some early adopters into your change coalition and enlist their help in influencing others and encouraging them to open up to new ideas and ways of doing things.

3. Not Providing Enough Face Time

This mistake relates to changing employees behaviors versus shifting their attitude or improving their knowledge. The ultimate goal is to change the actions of employees. Improving knowledge or attitudes is chiefly a means to that end. As the cliché says, “actions speak louder than words.” Behaviour is impacted by one-on-one communication and counseling. Group training sessions, mass communications and computer-based information transmissions are excellent ways of improving knowledge, but not such excellent ways of changing actions and behaviours.

One of the key mistakes made by organizations when implementing change is assuming that disseminating knowledge alone is adequate in executing change. By focusing solely on communicating new ideas within the organization en masse, leaders are neglecting the type of communication that effectively shifts behaviour patterns. Honest, open, interpersonal dialogues are more effective in changing behaviour. This is where your organization’s change task force can make a big impact. Though these types of communication require greater effort, they are more effective in affecting change.

4. Not Sticking to the Vision

Once the decision to change has been made, the change coalition recruited, and the need for change communicated, you may feel that you’re on your way to a successful transformation. A common mistake made by organizations when implementing change is not defining, communicating, and sticking to a clear vision for what direction the necessary change must take. Even when a clear vision is defined and communicated in the early stages of change, often times leaders get sidetracked and fail to integrate and align all initiatives to be consistent with said vision. Management and staff at all levels must continuously analyze whether projects and activities are consistent with the overarching goals of the organization.

5. Failing to Plan Small Successive Successes

An important part of sticking to the vision is to create opportunities to achieve smaller goals along the way. These small successes will not only work directly toward achieving the desired change, but will create positive feelings of accomplishment and the drive to pursue the next goal. Overlooking the value of setting small, attainable stepping-stone goals makes organizations miss opportunities to motivate staff and make change enjoyable and rewarding. Not defining clear milestones toward the desired change can make the end result seem far off and unattainable.

If you’re in the beginning stages of the change process, you’ll be well prepared to avoid the mistakes that others have made. If your organization has already been on the road to transformation for a while, you may or may not have experienced these issues firsthand. No matter which stage of the change process your organization is in, it is never too late to consider the dangerous pitfalls that may sabotage your efforts.

How to Have a Positive Reaction to Change in the Workplace

Change is all around us. It is happening to both you and I as I am writing this article. In the words of Charles Darwin, it is not the fittest that survive but those creatures that are most adaptable to change. When change occurs in our lives it can be a daunting experience. The truth that many people are afraid to face is that change can be scary. Imagine you just graduated and entered a new career. Suddenly you find yourself in an unknown environment – new faces, new concepts and new ways of doing things. It can be overwhelming.

You need not fear this. What you can do is to embrace change wholeheartedly. It is all in your subconscious mind. You may realize it but your mind loves changes. Change may look fearsome but it is also an exciting thing. Instead of trying to resist it – try to look at change as an opportunity to rediscover something new.

Chinese philosopher and author of the Art of War – Sun Tzu said: Opportunities multiply as they are seized. This is exactly what happens when you embrace change. Here are some tips you can apply to respond to change positively.

1. When you start seeing change happening in your workplace- gather as much information as you can about the change.

2. Engage in introspection as to how these changes is going to affect you in the workplace. You may have to work with a new boss, or your company has been taken over by a new management and there is planning a major re-shuffle.

3. See how you can fit in to the changing environment. Instead of simply accepting change – think of how you can contribute to the change. Perhaps your management team wants some ideas of how they can implement the changes objectively. Give them some suggestions on how this can be done. They will appreciate you more as you are seen to be accepting the changes and giving the impression on how you can adapt with them.

4. Act it out – imagine how the change will affect you and act accordingly. It might look a bit tedious in the beginning but when you keep trying you certainly will become better at it.

On a final note – the only other certainty in our live is the uncertainty that life provides. Remember the changes that you face are the excitement that gives you the edge to survive. When you