13/05/2010 - 00:00

Change is inevitable, be prepared for it

13/05/2010 - 00:00


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Change is inevitable, be prepared for it

ONE thing that is constant is change. Businesses the world over continually need to change and transform to stay competitive.

Apple, originally a computer company, now makes most of its revenue from iTunes, mobile phones and application downloads. Hewlett Packard was a scientific equipment company and is now one of the biggest providers of quality printers.

With the economic turnaround, businesses in Western Australia have to once again attract and retain staff. They also have to understand Asian markets and business practices.

The task for today’s leader is to ensure that their business remains agile enough to meet the challenges while also remaining consistent enough to deliver the day-to-day customer demands.

Many organisations implement change and hope that managers and employees will get it right with little training or coaching. Research, however, indicates that up to two thirds of major change initiatives are either failures or have made the situation worse.

A sign over an employee’s desk summarises this. Below a picture of Clint Eastwood holding a Magnum 45 revolver were the words: “Go ahead, make one more change!” With organisational stakes so high, it is imperative that change is managed as effectively as possible.

Two factors that contribute to successful change are 1) a planned approach to change and 2) leaders who are skilled in implementing change.

Using an ‘Integral Change Management’ planning model has led to successful implementation of change in private organisations, and local and state governments. These changes have dealt with IT, downsizing, restructuring and moving to central locations and shared services.

Following are some of the steps in the Integral Change Management


• Pressure for change. Pressure to change can come from the customer, legal, or financial areas.

• Clear shared vision. Leaders need to communicate and involve employees in a worthwhile, shared vision for them to feel motivated and part of the change.

• Strategic goals and aligned systems. The overall goals must be clear and the systems aligned.

• Capacity for change. People need the skills, attitude, resources and time to carry out the change.

• Actionable steps and targets. Actionable steps must be set out right from the start and have clear targets and timelines.

• Model the way. Leaders must ‘walk the talk’ and become excellent examples of the behaviours and actions they want to occur

• Reinforce and solidify change. Reward and recognise the change so that people feel that they are doing the right thing and are appreciated for it.

• Evaluate and improve. The change must be evaluated and improved during and at the end.

Having a ‘change team’ comprised of key influential people in management and ‘change champions’ from the workforce provides a major catalyst for change. It is also necessary to keep in touch with the attitudes and morale of individuals and teams so that negativity and doubts can be managed.

Recent research carried out by change expert Ann Gilley showed six key leadership skills that result in successful change.

• Communicating – providing the right information at the right time.

• Motivating – inspiring and finding the right ways to motivate staff.

• Involving and supporting – getting employees involved and supporting them.

• Coaching – leaders who can assist their teams to improve their resilience will positively enhance organisational success.

• Promoting teamwork and collaboration – teamwork has a significant impact on people’s ability to change.

• Rewarding – getting reward and recognition right is an important component of managing change, especially with the Australian tall poppy syndrome.

There is also evidence that leaders who have received coaching through times of change are more successful in implementing change.

To implement change successfully it is imperative leaders follow a good change-management plan and that they have the right skills. Not having these two ingredients may result in changes you don’t want.



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