Leadership and change management

“Dear Coachplus …

I have a question about my leadership and change management role.  I have been a senior manager for many years, and my division is recognised as very well run.  We operate as a team, and share much of the decision-making.  Of course, I am ultimately accountable for our performance.  There’s a corporate program coming our way, and I know this will be painful (my employees have yet to hear of it).  In fact, I worry that it will damage our strong work ethos.  Given my leadership success until now, I’m hoping to rely on my instincts when things get tough, but in reality, I am concerned about my ability to see this through.”

Coachplus replies:

Your strong man management skills will serve you well during change.  You will find it natural to involve employees in decisions which affect them.  This helps them to feel engaged, which helps you with planning and implementation.  More urgently though, an important aspect of leadership and change management is to prepare them for what lies ahead.

Change is disruptive, particularly when imposed.  You already anticipate this initiative will not be well received, and could damage the strong work culture.  Establish a post-change vision so people can understand the future and their role within it.  The status quo is shifting, and they need your help to make the transition.  Get employees thinking and talking about how things will be different, even when this cuts across things they currently value.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes people need to express the negative before they accept the reality of a situation.  You can reinforce the positive messages all the while.  And in your leadership and change management role, identify those elements of the corporate program which you can shape to your local needs.

You already understand that managing Business-As-Usual is not the same as managing change, hence your concern to not measure up.  Stay true to yourself, and let employees continue to engage with you at a personal level.  It’s amazing how much commitment they will give a leader they trust and respect.  It’s even possible that through your leadership and change management, you forge an even stronger team spirit and work culture than you had before.


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