Managing Change in the Workplace

Peninsula Team

July 02 2010

‘It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change’. Charles Darwin.

The unprecedented boom which led us into an impulsive bust (the recession), has forced businesses to make quick decisions on the structure of their company. Massive vredundancy exercises have been implemented so that businesses can continue to operate, thus leaving big gaps in the organisation’s future plans.

Restoring confidence in the workplace will be the fundamental driving force for turning our fortunes once again. With that in mind, organisations must seek to become more sustainable through the application of good management practice, however all too often these basic principles are overlooked. By taking a systematic approach to implementing change, managers can be more successful in achieving their business objectives. It is widely accepted that if individuals feel valued and a part of the organisation they are more likely to take pride in the organisation they work for. This means they perform better and are more inclined to help the business reach their goals.

Managers should consider two key factors for implementing change in a successful way:

• Inspire a shared vision
• Model the way – have the voice of a leader and consider the philosophy on leadership. What drives you as a leader, what beliefs do you hold, how you should act on a daily basis so that you are honestly demonstrating high performance leadership

A vision is designed to communicate the direction and aspirations of the organisation, the challenge is to bring that vision alive so that it inspires the people who need to realise its impact. So why is a vision so important?

The role of a leader is to make sure the people they lead clearly understand the vision by demonstrating their passion for achieving it. This can only have a positive impact if senior management are fully engaged and committed to the process. The drive for change is essential if momentum is to be maintained for effective implementation, which should happen at all levels so that it becomes embedded into the culture of the organisation. Meetings should be organised to communicate the vision, as well as having a visual representation at workstations. Check individual’s understanding and interpretation of the business vision and what it means to them both individually and as part of a team. Ensure that the vision is interpreted in a way that communicates the spirit of the organisation as well as the financial targets.

Leaders need to clearly communicate the future goals of the organisation. To do this all actions and goals should be fully aligned with the vision. This can only happen if individuals are continually looking ahead to the future, ensuring daily tasks are creating the future that they desire.

Enlist the help of others on the journey, ensuring that both individuals and the team feel able to influence decisions about how they will achieve the organisational vision. Also, reinforce to people that any decisions they make in the team’s interest will be fully supported. Encouraging ideas from employees to improve business relations will have a direct impact on the individual and team confidence because they know their ideas are taken seriously.

‘Leadership is getting others to do what you want them to do because they want to do it’ Eisenhower.

A manager should demonstrate the beliefs and behaviours of a leader. Colleagues will take guidance based on how the leader acts and what decisions they make. For the good of the business, those behaviours must have a positive impact on the ‘high performance environment’.

The key is to demonstrate a fair and consistent approach to leading individuals and the team. Take into account that every interaction with the team and individuals is significant. The focus should be on influencing people not dogmatically bullying them.

Being fair does not mean treating all individuals the same, it is recognising individual’s strengths and developing them further, as well as recognising people’s weaknesses so that you may help to overcome them. Inspire individuals by what you say and what you do, ensuring that the team will do what they say they will as the success of the business depends on everyone contributing to this. Holding people accountable through consistency, encouragement and influence is fundamental.

A simple formula for doing things successfully is achieving small wins. Doing the small things right everyday can help generate success over time. The leader should encourage and celebrate the success of individuals, which in turn will reinforce the correct behaviours.

‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit’ Aristotle.

Have a blueprint of the behaviours needed to make success happen. Focus on achieving high performance standards and expect those behaviours from your team. Consistently set and accomplish realistic goals for yourself and others in line with the needs of the business.

With all the above in mind, keeping up the momentum and implementing the management methodology is key to maintaining the effectiveness of the change. Good monitoring and analysis of the resulting data can provide the signpost for improvement.

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