Key Issues of Change Management (at the Executive Level)

Organization and Change


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Organization and Change > Best Practices > Key Issues of Change Management (at the Executive Level)

Key Issues of Change Management (at the Executive Level)
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
The ability to manage organizational change at a high level has become a crucial skill for executives. The times of simply aiming for organizational continuity and predictable earnings growth are gone.
Changes in the external environment, like new technologies and ways of communication, globalization of competition, and also the demand for more transparency and responsibility, are putting a lot of pressure and demand for change on organizations and on their top managers. At the same time, large-scale organizational change is utterly complex and demanding. Academics have developed an impressive list of methods, tools and approaches to manage organizational change on an expert level.
Without diving too deep in the details of these instruments for professionals, what key guiding principles of managing change should executives and top managers always bear in mind?
I recommend executives to focus on the arguably 3 most difficult aspects of organizational change:
  1. PEOPLE. Ultimately organizational change is all about humans. The human component is what makes any organizational change so complex, and will often determine if the change effort is successful or not. So select the very best people for the strategic change program and ensure all human aspects are planned and addressed early, carefully and systematically. Create and maintain involvement, participation and commitment of everyone and of all layers. More on Avoiding Resistance to Change.
  2. COMMUNICATION. Never assume the reasons for the change and the best direction are clear to everyone. Explicitly plan the entire communication effort early on. And communicate and keep communicating regularly on multiple levels, using multiple channels and two-directional (top down and bottom-up). More on Communicating a Strategic Vision.
  3. CULTURE. Company culture has multiple levels: explicit and implicit, visible and underlying. It involves things like shared history, values, beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, attitudes and behaviors. Because of these levels and aspects, culture is notoriously hard to change. That's why analyzing and addressing cultural aspects of the new ways of doing things is critical. Explicitly and continuously. More on Changing a Company Culture.
Source: Jones J., Aguirre D., and Calderone M., 2004, "10 Principles of Change Management - Tools and techniques to help companies transform quickly", strategy+business.

Key Issues in Change Management
SAMUEL LUZOBE, Consultant, Uganda, Member
The key questions people are asking during change management are:
  1. What is in it for me (likely benefits)? Put another way: am I in or out?
  2. Why can't we continue as we have been? Why the change?
  3. How will it be like in the "new land" after the change is implemented?
The communication (by executives) ought to constantly address these people issues.

Organization Culture and Change Management
Prof S P Garg, Management Consultant, India, Member
In my opinion, for sustainable organizational growth and to ensure the organizational change succeeds, the most important point is Culture. If people respect and follow the new culture, the process of transformation becomes smooth. This is even more pertinent in the present scenario of digital focus, AI, Internet of Things and their subsequent impact on people. Constant clear cut communication and faith in the long term vision is very important.

Key Issues in Change Management
Niminye Amatus, Manager, Member
The 3 questions outlined by @SAMUEL LUZOBE are very relevant and indeed are the most frequently asked ones. Many projects fail when these critical questions are not well addressed to the satisfaction of the people who are required to cooperate positively to ensure success.
A well planned COMMUNICATION STRATEGY is required to make the people appreciate the need for the change, and get actively involved in the change process and fully and actively participate.

Consistency in Purpose
Allemeersch, Interim Manager, Belgium, Member
Everything said is correct. Important for the total process is that there is a consistency of the goal / purpose of the change. Translations for all levels and specific department language need to be aligned, consistent and concrete so the people can translate the messages themselves into action.
One should not use and avoid "container words" for which everyone has his own explanation.

Key Issues in Change Management
Justus Nyangau, Business Consultant, Kenya, Member
People determine change. In reality the 3 issues are not independent; they are intertwined. Communication and culture are both related to people. We need to change peoples’ mindset and see issues in different ways.
People need to understand the benefits of the change to themselves first. Otherwise they will not understand why there should be change. Samuel Luzole has posted questions many people ask that reflect resistance to change. Change brings fear of unknown to people. When people understand the importance of changing from A to B they will change.
Another key issue of resisting change is lack of confidence and skills to handle the new situation. Some people may not know how to handle it and that can be a reason why they will like to remain in their comfort zone. For example, some old people may prefer going to the bank to do their transactions, while younger people would prefer using internet banking for transactions because they understand how to use internet and they like saving time to do other things.

From Change Management to Change Promotion
eduardo oliva, Professor, Mexico, Member
I tend to agree with most of the comments already made by my colleagues. What I would like to emphasize, however, is that CHANGE could be promoted, induced or make it happen. My experience leads me to believe that CHANGE cannot be managed. Any attempt to manage change in a traditional way could only spoil the whole process.

From Change Management to Change Promotion
Justus Nyangau, Business Consultant, Kenya, Member
I intend to have a contrary opinion with @eduardo oliva that “change cannot be managed”. You have well said that change can be promoted …make it happen. But how can you introduce/bring change if you don't manage it? Please Eduardo, can you briefly explain why change cannot be managed?
In my understanding change can be managed by answering why change should be there and how it can be implemented. By so doing, you manage change.
Effects of change can bring a lot of anxiety and this is what needs to be factored in change management.

Key Issues of Change
Shawna-Lee Lawrence, Entrepreneur, Jamaica, Member
I think change largely depends on PEOPLE, which has been conveyed through the steps to facilitate change. I think involving people at large will existentially define or make your brand image, clarity and loyalty. Excellent!

Factors Affecting Successful Change
Maurice Hogarth, Consultant, United Kingdom, Premium Member
Accepted Jaap. Consider:
  • TECHNOLOGY, particularly AI, will be the key driver of change.
  • PEOPLE AND COMMUNICATION: Change is about implementing new solutions (to old and new problems). Communication is not just telling the "what", no matter how well it is presented. It is about creating a motivation to listen (both ways) then getting a close approximation of what’s in the senders mind into the listeners mind. So that they not only know the what but understand and accept the "why".
  • CULTURE is about “How we do things around here”. One of adaptability in meeting the turbulent circumstances of the future with success and confidence. Such culture will be the foundation for all successful change.

Organization and Change

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