Time for change!

Things have been building up for some time havent they? The changes out there in the marketplace, those super-efficient IT developments, new product launches from the competition, and a host of other factors have made change in your organisation an absolute necessity - and, as youre in charge then youre the one to carry it through!

Nows the time to use those leadership and communication skills we looked at in my earlier articles because change management needs them both - and how! Like lots of things in life the first step, once taken, makes what follows both possible and infinitely easier. Now weve got to the stage where change is seen as necessary and inevitable then we can start to work on making it happen.

At this time you are probably the only person who knows that change is on the way so take a little time to think about where you and your business are at present and where you want to be after youve put changes in place. Youll probably have an outline idea as to how youre going to get from A to B but dont work this into a detailed plan yet, others need to have their voice heard. Note this where you want to be, implicit in these words is the understanding, the belief that we are in charge of our own destiny, our own future. This is not going to be something that happens to us, its going to be a process, which we manage, we control and which ultimately brings our people and our business to our chosen destination.

So you know some key things now; the need for change, the destination, roughly how you might get there and the consequences of not changing. Its time to start communicating, but remember that most people are nervous of change and dont see it quite like you do. Change implies difference, innovation, shifting, uncertainty, unpredictability and instability, to many people its something viewed with great suspicion, like strong prime-ministerial support for a failing politician. Dont keep your people in the dark; this is no time for mushroom management.

There are two key aspects of getting people to support change, firstly give them enough information to understand the reasons for change and secondly use your influence and leadership skills to gain their support. The communication exercise should also act as a vehicle to take on board your teams ideas on how to make the changes needed. As always knowledge is power, so empower your team, give them the knowledge! Set up some workshops to help bring out ideas. Many of your people know far more about some aspects of the business than you do, dont forget it, use their skills and experience. Use their input to put flesh on the bones of your skeleton plan, theyll buy in to the process and take some ownership if they can see that youve really been listening!

Once youve finalised the plan then make sure that everyone involved knows what it is, dont leave room for rumour. Set out the timescales and the implications, put some checkpoints in place to make it easy for you and everyone else to assess progress.

Just a thought or two before you start implementation. The responsibility to manage this change is YOURS and no-one elses; the success or failure of the change plan depends on your abilities as a leader of your people. Set a good example, be obviously involved in the process, give people more freedom to act, make it easy for them to get things done, this is a difficult and challenging time for them, let them know that you understand.

So far this has been lots of hard work for everyone, youre partway through the process, time for a quick check of where you are up to compared with the plan, now press on, keep driving things forward. By now if youve done your job well the change will have a momentum of its own, youll be surfing the wave and before you know it youre on the beach-your destination!

Nows the time to take a breath and, with your team, review where you are.
Check things against the plan, make whatever final tweaks are needed and let the changes have time to bed-in before you do a further check on their effectiveness.

I always think that changing things is a bit like having the builders in, not always comfortable when its happening but great when its finished. In truth though things are never truly finished and we should not lose sight of the fact that change is an absolute fact of life, the only things that do not change are dead, yesterdays businesses, devoid of life! As part of our responsibilities we need to make sure that our organisations are mutable, are capable of change. We need to build up a sense of change not being a one-off but of being an ongoing aspect of a vibrant business.
Just remember - when change is inevitable - enjoy it!

I am always doing things which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it Pablo Picasso

Stephanie Greasley has considerable experience as a senior business professional, operating internationally with more that 25 years experience, including 15 years in the ADC industry. She held management positions with PSC, Symbol Technologies and ScanSource -- where as MD she took the company from start-up to its position as Europes leading Automatic Data Capture Distributor. She now works independently as an Executive Coach and Business Growth Consultant in her own company CCI -- Coaching, Consulting & Implementation.

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