August 17 2011
Change Management properly focuses on the people of the business experiencing change. That is ensuring they are ready for the change and in the right mindset for change. The mindset is an interesting area to examine. I’m not a psychologist, but I have a good grasp of human behaviour and the focused and clear steerage of change needs that human behaviour to be on point and predictable through a change event.
So when is a business ready to go through change? In simple terms, when it needs to, wants to or has to. That may be a change to keep the business afloat such as downsizing, relocating or refinancing; process modernizations such as Lean or Six Sigma reviews; new business adoption, increases or expansion requiring new positions to be created and/or filled and management restructuring maybe. All of these are events when the hand as been forced or perhaps guided to make the change due to the impact of other events. Yet, these events have been created through business strategy and application, so perhaps shouldn’t be as much of a surprise as they often are.
Whatever the impetus for the change is, the cultural readiness for the change can be hard to determine. Businesses with the best culture for change will likely have the following in their repertoire:
Previous changes being managed well, and there will have been previous business change, will encourage willingness for change. I always say that a good change manager will not only help in successfully delivering a change now, but will lay the foundations for acceptance of all future changes.
A transparency and appropriateness of communications to date. Clear explanations, audiences targeted and cascaded information retaining its core message. Use of the right vehicles for communications and a willingness to engage and embrace challenges and push back, to ensure clarity of reason for anything that is being communicated.
A Strong learning cultures with active encouragement to understand new things; expand knowledge of existing areas and be willing to share knowledge through coaching and mentoring others. It is likely to have a variety of differing learning vehicles available and an acceptance of all employees that they will be learning new or different things at regular periods throughout the year.
Managerial and leadership positivity through embracement of opportunities rather than focusing on failing and disappointments. A can do, will do or able to approach to meet challenges.
All of this forms a solid cultural grounding for a business ready to make a change. This is not to say that the absence of this will not make the change possible, but it is likely to need more energy, time and ultimate costs, as the culture is pulled within the sphere of those with this profile.
The ideal time to make a change is when these all exist, the likely time is when some of this exists, and unfortunately the most frequent time is where little of this exists. Then the change happens with the push forward, rather than a gentle pull along the right path.