” like being a little pregnant – it tends to get worse.”
(Quote from Molly Ivins)
When is it a good time to change? When all is quiet? Perhaps when busy? During a change of leadership such as a merger? All of these provide an opportunity to implement changes and some can provide a ‘good crisis’ that should not be wasted.
But, – and it’s a BIG ‘but’ – without the right leadership engagement, the inevitable change will take on a life of its own, shaping you and your organisation rather than being the vehicle for a brave new business. The crisis will be wasted!
So far this year (2010) we have been heavily involved in three of our clients’ change programmes. Two in particular have been striking in their differences. Although the clients are variously in the public and private sectors and are also quite different in purpose, the management of change has common problems and requirements that have been handled variously very well and very patchily. The key area of difference I am referring to is in the early stage with leadership engagement.
As described so well by Beckard and Harris, change essentially requires a reason to change (be it dissatisfaction or incentive), a shared vision of the future state and a path to achieve the change. If any of these fail at a leadership level, the change will fail.
We approach this challenge in nine steps, the first three being Leadership team focused:
‘Set up for Success’
‘Clarify the Vision’
‘Clarify the Need’
The momentum that you gain should be maintained and grown constantly, because as soon as you start to lose peoples’ interest you will lose their respect – and I have seen that you will really struggle to get it back.
One of the clients I have in mind has a leadership team that habitually reminds itself, the change team Consulting Skills Pdf and the business of the reasons and priority for change in the first place along the lines of:
AÃ¯Â¿Â½ ‘The reason we need to change is because you struggle when you are busy and we have new priorities’
AÃ¯Â¿Â½ ‘We need to improve our KPI’s results against our agreed targets.’
AÃ¯Â¿Â½ ‘We will pursue excellence year round including during busy periods so that our change program is seen as something integral and critical to success.’
The other has stated the change requirement, but has not set it apart as the critical thing – the vehicle – that will deliver the business strategy. Instead table banging is equally loud for many tactical and operational requirements. This creates a communications fog in which operations managers cannot tell what actions are the priorities.
So, how do you create the right leadership behaviours?
Have a shared vision and plan as a leadership team.
Communicate the plan at all levels using best practice across media.
Involve everyone in the plan.
Initiate the plan!
With a shared position the top team can be off to the How To Be A Good Consultant Book right start – contrary to human nature some may say!
Our next article will consider how to optimise employee engagement.