Change Management – More Than Words
July 3, 2018 in Change, Transparency, & Communication
By Carolyn Kurowski
In this post on change management and the President’s Management Agenda, I want to focus on the role that leaders play in bringing about important change. I am thinking of leaders broadly, including both the heads of agencies, as well as the supervisors of branches and divisions. I’m talking to anyone who is in some way responsible for implementing a new process, changing their organizational structure, or finding a new way of doing business. I believe that, armed with an understanding of your audience, strong and consistent messaging, and a plan for frequent and factual communication, a committed leader can bring about true change within an organization. But as leaders, our role in the change process has to be more than words carefully crafted in an email or well delivered from a podium. We need to be active agents of change.
As leaders, we ourselves need to change; change our perspective, change our attitudes, and change our behaviors, if we want to achieve our stated goals.
See the Future
Earlier this year, our president Erin Pitera, wrote about the importance of having a vivid vision. If you want to help your organization make a major change, you have hold that vision in your mind. You will encounter obstacles and your organization may resist. You need to change how you see the future so you know where you are going and how you can help your organization stay true to that vision and outcome.
Know the Plan
A comprehensive change management strategy can represent a lot of work, so it is unrealistic to expect a leader to draft every message, research every point, and think through every event. Change management support can provide valuable assistance putting together an effective plan and developing all the materials and information needed to execute that plan. That being said, leaders must make themselves familiar, comfortable even, with every aspect of the plan. This is your pathway to change and you need to be familiar with the directions so that you can inform and execute that plan effectively. Do not leave the management of your change to someone else.
Be the First to Change
Ashley did a great job laying out all the reasons that change is hard, but one of the most basic reasons is that it requires us to change our habits and the things we are comfortable with. A good leader needs to recognize that they need to be the first to change. Doing so serves as a model that other employees can see and follow. It also takes away the excuse that “Why should I do it, if the person in charge isn’t willing to change?” Changing yourself is the best way to know if this is ultimately the right direction for your organization and to understand what your workforce might be feeling and experiencing along the way.
Reward, Reassure, and Reengage
Finally, as a leader, you play a remarkably important role in supporting the actual change process. Using your existing feedback, performance management, and rewards processes, you can recognize and support the individuals and teams within that are effectively making the changes you have identified. You can also use these existing processes facilitate conversations that reassure those that are unsure of the change and reengage with those who have not yet accepted the new approach or process. Using these processes as opportunities to help employees break their old habits and form new ones can move your change management process from words to something truly new and exciting.
All of this takes energy and effort, so be sure to build in time and activities that allow you to recharge and stay focused and effective.