Oops, a change trap!

With this post, I would like to talk about leading change and what, in my humble opinion, is important to watch out for.
The first, and one of the most important elements of a successful change initiative is a proper and convincing Case for Change. It provides the reason, the WHY a change is needed and this should be seen by all critical stakeholders. It establishes, what Kotter calls, “a sense of urgency”.
Fry and Killing came up with a wonderful picture illustrating the responses you usually get from your stakeholders at the different stages of Strategic Performance.

Proactive versus Reactive?
– When you are in times of good to great performance and you “anticipate” a necessary change you most often hear comments in the direction of “Why do we have to change now?”
– In times of early declining performance where you “react” to the situation you get questions in the direction of “Do we really need to change? This is just a dip and it will get better again.”
– whereas towards the end of this phase the understanding that change is necessary is rising.
– In times of a “crisis”, very seldom people will argue that change is necessary. Here you will hear statements like “we should have done this times ago!”

This means that, the earlier in time and the better the current performance the more you need to invest in a Case for Change. Or the more proactive you envision the change, the more time you will need to invest in the Case for Change. In your leadership position, you might have experienced that you anticipate a change is necessary and your people experience you as 10 miles ahead. They don’t feel the need yet. It’s an important leadership skill to “feel the system”, to “tune in” and lead your people from where they are in order to have their buy-in.

Oops, don’t fall into that change trap!
Even with all the wisdom which is around on change leadership, the first thing we challenge when we come into organisations is their case for change. Leaders know it is key and often don’t challenge themselves or their change project leaders enough. It is amazing how many change initiatives are undertaken without a clear ‘business case’. The change trap you are likely to fall into here is that people will not change at all and that you preserve the status quo. If you are not really clear in your leadership on the case for change and the “Why….for the sake of something better you envision”, your people will not follow you.

Balanced authentic leadership during change
So, when leading change, make absolutely certain that you do have a solid Case for Change. The tools that can help here are e.g. a ‘Force Field Analysis’ or a ‘Cost Benefit Analysis’. Those are the data, facts, results oriented perspectives.
Real leadership is a fine balance of doing (the what) and the being (the how).
So when you have done your homework, you are ready with your Case for Change not only with your rational mind but you also feel it deep inside of you what you stand for and why this change is so important.

Stay tuned for the next blog on leading change when I talk about a proper direction or Vision.

Greetings from 5C! in the Black Forrest!
Rainer Hoferichter
Managing Director 5C! Concept Germany
Certified Trainer Process Communication Model by Dr. Taibi Kahler
Organizational Systems Coach and Consultant

Note: Our 4S-change model provides a holistic framework to manage mid- to large-scale change. It ensures more rapid implementation of change whilst minimizing emotional disruption. It also covers all the critical elements in the change process, allowing people to redirect their energy towards the work at hand. Our services include change leadership and management programs, integrating change agents in your organization and change consultancy. More information in our Wise Paper: http://dld.bz/z4ct

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