Four Truths Leaders Should Know About Organizational Change

Managers today have to lead change in an environment of uncertainty that can change at any time. Click To Tweet

There was a time when business operations were stable and change occurred infrequently.  Like the Model T Ford, however, those days are history.

Dr. John Kotter, who is widely regarded as the Guru of Change Management, states that the rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon.

Many business experts agree with him. They predict that over the next few decades the business environment will become even more volatile.

For managers and leaders in business, this means they must be able to both adapt quickly to change and manage it effectively. Maintaining a balance between adapting to change and managing it effectively is difficult for even the most skilled leaders, however.

Effective change management can occur when leadership understands four critical truths about organizational change.

1.    People do not resist change that they believe is in their best interest. Resistance to change is overstated in business discussions. The fact is we accept change all of the time.  The key to our acceptance of change is that we must believe it will be positive for us.  This truth means leadership must sell the value of the desired change to organizational stakeholders.  Employees and managers will be more receptive to change efforts when leaders communicate the value of the future.

2.    Major change is increasingly the norm rather than the exception. Incremental change used to be acceptable; today, it is the fastest route a business can take to become unnecessary. The rate of change has sped up greatly.  This is due to various societal forces including the global economy, the Information Age, legislation, rapid changes in technology, 4 generations in the workplace, and the Internet.  The effect of these forces means most organizations need to be faster, less costly, and more customer-focused. Organizations that adopt an incremental approach to change management will find they are left behind by their more adaptable competitors.

Business stability is a thing of the past. Change today is constant and swift. It's the new way of doing business. Click To Tweet

3.    Despite a leader’s best efforts, political resistance to change never fully disappears. Political resistance often comes from common human failings such as excessive ambition, prior misunderstandings, poor communication, bad management, competing values or old fashioned jealously.  Resistance to change manifests itself in many ways including indifference, passive resistance, and active resistance.  Effective change leaders accept this truth. They minimize political resistance through an effective change management strategy, ongoing two-way communication, active employee participation, sensible delegation, superior people skills, meaningful rewards, and overall interpersonal effectiveness.

4.    A change vision is a critical component of an effective change management effort. A change vision is a shared sense of an achievable and desirable future. It is a shared vision that organizational stakeholders accept and work to achieve.  Kotter describes an effective change vision as being “sensible to the head and appealing to the heart.”  It takes time to develop a change vision for the organization, however. Senior leadership must first be clear on what the desired future looks like for the organization and then work with organizational stakeholders to further develop the vision. An effective change vision has three components.  It is reasonably easy to communicate, identifies areas of change, and has a clear target and a statement of desirability.

The time of stable business operations has past.  Change is a reality!

The successful businesses of the future are those that can adapt effectively and continually to the constant change that societal forces bring.  Leaders who understand these four critical truths about organizational change will position their organizations for success in this complex business environment.

While leading change is not easy, you’ll be less likely to take the difficulties that you’ll encounter personally if you accept these truths.

There was a time when change in organizations was infrequent. Those days are over! Click To Tweet
Written by Robert Tanner | Copyrighted Material | All Rights Reserved Worldwide

This article is accurate to the best of the author’s knowledge.
Content is for informational or educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional advice in business, management, legal, or human resource matters.

Robert Tanner, MBA

Welcome to my leadership blog. I'm the Founder & Principal Consultant of Business Consulting Solutions LLC, a certified practitioner of psychometric assessments, and a former Adjunct Professor of Management. As a leadership professional, I bring 20+ years of real world experience at all levels of management.

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