A View from Blue Grotto

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The more things change...

So much change is happening today. In fact, it feels as though if something does NOT change, there is something afoot. I recently saw a billboard for the College of St. Catherine: “Do you have what it takes to lead change, not just manage it?” And I got to thinking about just that, managing change. It is one thing to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a problem here, and we need to fix it.’ And quite another to roll up your sleeves and help others see the problem and agree to be part of the solution.

When I Googled the term leading change, thousands of references to John Kotter’s work on the topic popped up. But, on page three of the search was a 2005 article in the Graziadio Business Report, published by Pepperdine University. Way back when, in 2005, PhD and research scientist Christopher Worley wrote a series of articles, one of them titled “Leading change management involves some simple, but too often forgotten rules.”

Worley and co-author Yvonne Vick outlined six of those forgotten rules:
1. Do no harm
2. All change involves personal choice
3. The relationship between change and performance is not instantaneous
4. Connect change to business strategy
5. Involvement breeds commitment
6. Any good change effort results in increased capacity to face change in the future

I would venture to guess that these six statements may be rules of sound business strategy in general, not just in an organizational change situation. And I think that all six are essential to managing change, not simply mandating it – that manage versus lead question.

All too often executive leadership hands down directives of change to those in the middle tiers of management, but without the tools to help their peers and their own direct reports to understand the change, adapt to the change, and to perform in this new environment.

Within the outlined rules, I found some simple wisdom.

Not everyone will be excited about change (sorry to sound so obvious). Even the people who know, deep down, that there has got to be a better way. Many companies help navigate change by offering mentoring and coaching strategies to the team leaders who will be responsible for implementing new processes.

Give the gift of time. Knowing that there is no silver bullet, but that systemic changes will take time and effort on everyone’s part can help alleviate anxiety about immediate performance.

And lastly, and always my favorite, give people the opportunity to reflect. By allowing staff time to “…pause from “doing” the work to reflect on how the work was going, what they had learned about implementing change, and how they would do things differently in the future…” you keep the team motivated and ready for new challenges.

Email me with ways your leadership is preparing you and your team for managing change.

You can find a copy of the Worley article at: http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/052/change.html#cworley

Yvonne Hundshamer
President, Blue Grotto Inc.

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