Effectively Managing Change

Business phraseology these days has turned change management into a term that incorporates anything to do with any kind of organisational shift, and rightly so. Change management has become vital to managers implementing any new initiative in the corporate world, no matter what is included. Nomenclature and jargon aside, change management always starts with one thing: a problem. Because of some real or perceived problem, companies decide to move from the way in which they are working to a newly defined way of working. Like the old saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

Management Meeting

Problems That Lead to Change Management

There are three basic kinds of problems that lead to the need for change: How? What? and Why? And these three problems form the basis of the three models for change management. Let us take a closer look at the three models, the associated employee divisions, and the questions asked that lead to the desire for change.

How?

This is a process focused conundrum. Team members working in systems and operations divisions are likely to gravitate towards this sort of change management process. Questions like:
• How do we switch from the current CMS system to the new CMS system?
• How do we inspire employees to take on more responsibility?
• How will we improve tardiness?

What?

This problem is focused only on the end result, and can often turn a blind eye to the process involved with achieving the result. What tends to be more important in the change management process is defining a measurable result. Team members in results-oriented divisions like sales, and support are typically inclined to ask these questions, for example:

• What are we aiming at achieving?
• How many items do we plan on selling?
• How would we measure our success?

Why?

Why questions are a combination of the process and the end result, and therefore more balanced. Senior management and business owners are usually the ones who ask these questions about the process of change. What is at stake to them is the likelihood of the company’s success, so the reasoning behind the approach to managing change is geared for improving these odds. Questions in this model could typically be:

• Why does productivity have to increase? (To increase profit)
• Why does the percentage of profit need to increase? (To increase earnings)
• Why should there be spare cash flow? (To invest back into the company)

Collaboration Between Art and Science

To meet all these challenges and answer all the questions, change management is vital. And, to effectively apply change management strategies, a combination of scientific analysis and artistic vision is required, along with a set of key skills – depending on the changes about to be made. Skills may include:

• Negotiation skills
• Communication skills
• The ability to engage
• Analytical skills that include areas like workflow, systems, financial and operational
• The ability to see interaction between divisions

In addition to the required skills, it is important that every member of the change management team knows how the business works and what the changes being implemented mean to the business. To become an integral part of the wave of change, every team member has to find their area of expertise, whether they are part of the How?, What?, or Why? crowd. More than anything else, managers should know that change management is about team effort.