Leading organizational change
As a manager, you have a vital role to play in implementing change. You’re on the front line when new processes, systems, or job roles take effect. You also play a critical leadership role during times of change and uncertainty. You need to be:
- a communicator — this is about having open, frank discussions with direct reports. To drive change, managers must be central to the delivery of information — that is, information must be channeled through them. An otherwise effective communications campaign will fail without this kind of direct interaction.
- an advocate of change — this entails a personal commitment to support and participate in the change process. This means identifying the specific changes that will affect your direct reports, understanding the reasons for these changes, knowing how your team will be affected, and understanding your role in the process. Introducing the change to your group includes building an awareness of the need for the change and the objectives of the change. It’s your job to promote the change to your team.
- a facilitator of learning — this requires regular, on-the-job training in the new processes. Intensive training given by specialized trainers is useful, but it can’t replace hands-on, on-the-job training by managers.
- a point of contact — managers serve as liaisons between different groups. Regular meetings between managers and direct reports are an opportunity to identify problems and brainstorm ideas for improvement.
- a process owner — taking ownership of the process means understanding it and being an expert in its details. It means knowing about the changes and how they connect with and impact upon other functions, and understanding your role in the change process. It also means being a change champion — encouraging buy-in from others, and taking responsibility for making change happen.
Leading change requires preparation. The first step in preparing to lead change is to identify the changes that affect your group. Not every change will impact upon your direct reports, while others may severely affect them. It’s also important to know why the changes are necessary. To develop an understanding of your own role in the process, consider what you need to do to drive the change process.
This means assessing your responsibilities and how these are affected by the changes.The second step in preparing to lead change is to adapt to the changes. This involves reflecting on your own resistance, if any, to the changes, and communicating your concerns.
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