Article - Change In turbulent Times

Project Description

TTM associates Article

The only thing that remains constant is change!

change graph

For any organizational development (OD) intervention to be effective, the following questions have to be answered: Why change? Change what? How do we make it stick? Many organizations rush to implement changes but very few assess the need for change and the impact it has upon individuals. In the fast paced and dynamic corporate world the emphasis is on action rollout. This happens mechanically and often organizations find themselves with a disgruntled workforce with no clear focus and consequently the business results lag behind. While acting decisively is an important factor, the concept of purpose and a clear path to achieving expected results is pivotal to achieving change.

Understanding The Process Of Change

The change curve comes from work done by Dr Kubler Ross on how people respond to grief. The concept has been adapted to also address the emotions people experience when going through change. Extensive research has been done by psychologists proving the relevance of the curve in a business environment. With every change we go through, even positive change such as promotions or self-elected change of roles, we also lose something (e.g. a team that we liked to work with, security in a role we knew well, etc).

article_change_peopleChange can have a negative impact on some people and a positive impact on others. Learning to expect and plan for this impact is important. We need to pay attention to the response we get from people and act on these human emotions. The change curve supports us to be aware of the emotions people might be experiencing and provides tools to help lead people through the curve in an RRR way.

We can’t and shouldn’t avoid the feelings our people go through when experiencing change, however it is important to be aware that those emotions can and do affect our productivity and morale. It is therefore important that we acknowledge and do what we can to manage the movement along the change curve to engage people in the change and for them to recommit to the business.

‘Our problem, in essence, is a simple one. We never have enough time to do anything, but we always find time to do it twice’. (President, French Pharmaceutical Company). The failure rate of organizational change is dramatic, even though a plethora of training and education programs attempt to help leaders, managers and change agents to make sense of the complex world around them. Several studies point out that the most frequent and most severe cause for these failures is a neglect of organizational culture. The reality is that the stability which seemed to characterize the corporate world in the 1950’s and 1960’s has given way to increased global competition, technological innovation and change, limited resources, deregulation, privatization of public sector organizations and change in much more besides. But with that growing confidence we can see a growing interest in learning how to manage change more effectively.

What does this all mean to us, as employees and as managers? How can we seize an advantage from the process of change? How can we help ourselves and others cope with the often stressful experience of change? How can we ensure that we manage change well? How can we create more effective organizations? Is it possible to do so and still encourage people to learn, develop and fulfil themselves? Can we do all this and make money as well? By getting a better understanding of why certain approaches to management seem to work we can pursue each of these objectives more fully.

article_change_round_tableChange can have a negative impact on some people and a positive impact on others. Learning to expect and plan for this impact is important. We need to pay attention to the response we get from people and act on these human emotions. The change curve supports us to be aware of the emotions people might be experiencing and provides tools to help lead people through the curve in an RRR way.

We can’t and shouldn’t avoid the feelings our people go through when experiencing change, however it is important to be aware that those emotions can and do affect our productivity and morale. It is therefore important that we acknowledge and do what we can to manage the movement along the change curve to engage people in the change and for them to recommit to the business.

In today’s world, managers face complex and challenging pressures and opportunities. They must ensure the efficient use of resources and, at the same time, find ways of guaranteeing the long-term effectiveness of the organizations for which they work. Effectiveness includes the ability to identify the right things to do in the future (right products and services to offer, the appropriate technologies to exploit, the best procedures and structures to introduce, to find, recruit and retain people with appropriate skills.) Effectiveness also requires the ability to adapt in order that we can achieve these new tasks. Effectiveness therefore comprises the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

article_change_red_whitePlanning, implementing and coping with change has been, and seems likely to remain, one of the main challenges facing managers, in both the private and public sector. In telecommunications, manufacturing, banking, education and pharma, change is the norm. The merger and acquisition boom of recent times brings change in its wake throughout industry and commerce. Frequently, for many, these changes must be undertaken in testing circumstances. Sales and profitability may be falling rapidly. A merger bid may lead managers to review performance and strategic plans. All this might form part of a defence against merger. Regardless, whether or not the merger or takeover succeeds, change seems likely. Many organizations face deregulation. Banking is a good example of this but not the only one. Transport deregulation has had a dramatic impact in some EU countries (e.g. the republic of Ireland). Central government spending decisions can create powerful pressures on the expenditure within service organizations, often with dramatic effects on the attitude of staff and clients.

The Management Of Crisis And Turnaround

We often say that we learn more from our failures than from our successes. Our understanding of organizational effectiveness can be enriched by examining the causes of the failures. Whether a failure is associated with the use of technology or with the collapse of a business, a close examination of the events leading up to the failure will identify opportunities which might have been used to forestall the failure. The lack of prior intervention is clearly ‘ineffectual’ behaviour. Failures may appear to be caused by changes of environmental conditions that organizations cannot control. Events may cause severe difficulties for any organization and nothing can change that. Failures are caused by problems within organizations which are often both deep rooted and important. Environmental change raises questions of how to respond. Competitive pressures may require innovation in product design or production processes. Managers are not simply subject to environments but can also respond to them to ensure continued effectiveness.

Should you need any further information about CHANGE IN TURBULENT TIMES please do not hesitate to contact TTM associates at: info@ttmassociates.com

References

  • “Managing Change in Organizations”, Third edition, Colin A. Carnall
  • “Project Manager as Change Agent”, J.Rodney Turner, Kristoffer V. Grude, Lynn Thurlowy
  • “The Whole Brain Business Book” Ned Herrmann
  • University of Pittsburg, Change Management [Link]
  • Sage, “Strategic Management of Corporate Change [Link]