At iExecutives, we have a large proven experience with the successful roll-out of change projects in various kinds of organizations. We are happy to share this experience with you. Effective change management is essential if companies are to overcome the disruption and negative responses towards change. Organisations that successfully manage change survive and grow by working ever more efficiently. To ensure this success, the energies and creativity of the entire organisation need to be directed towards a common accepted purpose.
In the actual market situation, companies rather choose not to recruit additional manpower and to postpone new projects for “better times to come”. However, this can result in a loss of market share, business opportunities,… Executive interim management is the solution to overcome this.
However within an organisation facing a change initiative, whatever form the change takes, it is common for two conflicting forces to develop. The first, named the promotors, is pro-change while the second, named the resistors, are anti-change. The relative strengths of these two forces control the success of the change.
To successfully manage change it is important to be aware of, and to manage, both of these forces. This means identifying and working with the three key groups – the promoters, the resistors, and the fence-sitters – within the company. The fence-sitters are those people that are indifferent about the change and so contribute to neither force. They are, in many respects, the enemy of a change manager as they will often become resistors by default when a change initiative reaches its climax.
A change manager’s first aim however should be to persuade these fence-sitters to become promoters or resistors. Encouraging these people to express their anti-change feelings enables the change manager to get to know where the forces are coming from and what issues are causing it.
The promoters play an important part in pushing change through, however if they have an aggressive relationship with the other groups they may indirectly increase the anti-change forces. As a change manager you should mainly focus on the resistors. By working with these people and addressing their concerns you will not only secure the long term survival of change, but also will you uncover issues that will shape the change initiative itself.
An essential part of this persuasion is effective communication. It is only through communicating with the people affected by the change that the pro-change forces can be enhanced and the anti-change forces overcome.
A first component of communication aims to gain understanding of the group. This means presenting the change – what it involves and what it aims to achieve – in an accessible way and promoting the change through familiar communication channels. To achieve this, the change manager identifies the resistors’ grievances and sees if these problems can be overcome by better explanation.
The second component aims to gain the input of the group. Communication should not be seen as a simple process of informing group members about an initiative. Input should be gained through surveys or facilitated meetings and used in developing the change project. This process will bring to light resistors’ grievances and ideas, enabling possible solutions to be built into the change project. These findings will not just help build support for the project, but might also improve the quality of the project itself.
Gaining the understanding and input of the group members is one of the key elements to success. Treating communication as a publicity campaign, trying to win the support of resistors and fence-sitters by simple promotion, is an effective way of achieving change. In the short-term, promotion will win the support of both groups to sufficiently reduce the anti-change force to allow the initial changes of a change project to succeed. However, it will not have really approached the initial grievances of group members. These grievances might come to the surface once the new system is in place. A change manager must realize that even after a change has been implemented the ‘anti’ force has not been beaten. A change initiative which has not approached member grievances or input suffers once it has been put into place.
As indicated before, change after all is a very emotive issue for those it affects, people who are human, with their worries, fears, hopes and dreams. Even if they understand the reasoning behind a project, it does not mean they will become motivated towards it. A change manager needs to recognise that these emotions are perfectly natural and that people tend to move to accept change each at their own pace.
A temporary external manager has been proven to be quiet often the right solution to manage a large change initiative. Due to internal politics, strong resistance, etc… the change manager often becomes unaccepted after the project to collaborate with.