September 15, 2017

Change Management and Its Role in Leadership

Ken Paskins

Ken Paskins
CEO | Integrator Helping Companies With My Complete Sales System to Drive Revenue & Breakout Results/GCE Strategic Consulting

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In life as well as in business, the old saying “change is the only constant” holds true. I have worked with many companies undergoing significant changes where the employees are resistant and skeptical of the new ideas. The leadership team needs to be capable of change management.

Leadership team owns change management

Many believe change management is the not the responsibility of the leadership team. I disagree on many fronts. A fundamental aspect of leadership is giving clear vision, directions, and expectations to employees. Any time you implement change across an organization, change management is paramount to accomplish these things.

Change is essential for growth and progress

The simple answer is anything that breaks the norm and or is a disruption to the norm. Human nature craves stability, and even small changes can make people uneasy. It is a leader’s job to make any transition as smooth as possible.  

Change management is something that very few companies do well, disproportionately so for small companies. As a leader, it is easy to assume your employees are all on the same page as you—employees generally don’t push back. By definition, change management is the controlled identification and implementation of required changes within a company.  The simplicity of this definition often gives way to a false sense of easy implementation.  

Here are a handful of areas where change management is crucial:

  • Executive leadership change
  • Layoffs
  • M&A
  • Combining departments or cutting departments
  • Significant economic or competitive landscape changes
  • Compensation plan changes

 Here are some basic steps and things to go through when putting together your change management plan:

  • Establish the end goal
  • Map out a timeline of what change is taking place
  • Have clear talking points for everyone in the management role so that they can have conversations with their employees
  • Map out the communication cadence. Meaning CEO will say this in email followed up by departmental calls managers with employees armed with the key messages and talking points answer any questions
  • Continually reinforce why the changes necessary and the benefits to the company, customers, and employees

Pay attention to employees that are specifically nervous and have one-on-one conversations with them going over the exact talking points once again:

  • Focus on making your points but constantly listening and adjust the plan if necessary
  • Don’t change too much at once, take the time

Time is essential

Fully grasping the process involved in change management also, means accepting it takes time. Enabling your leadership team to acknowledge and adjust timelines to ensure that the changes have been accepted and fully absorbed by the entire organization.  This could be 30 days to 130 days.  It is important during this time not to manage too many change cycles at once and to carefully map out all the different changes that you need to implement over time.  Having too many moving parts is a sure way to fluster both employees and management, as well as increase the chances for mistakes.  

The key is being methodical in your approach and keeping your eyes and ears open during the process while staying open to criticism and input. Remember change is necessary for any business and how you do it makes all the difference. 

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