Myths play a useful role in our life. They help to simplify and present a story that build shared understanding and insight.
One way of thinking about myths is that they are ‘fanciful fiction’ which help us make sense of the world. We must remember that they are not reality, they reflect a widely held but false belief.
The role of workplace myths
The world of work also has its ‘myths’ which are the shorthand that guide and influence the management of business.
I want to focus in a series of post on some of the common myths about change management in order to challenge our thinking on how we approach the need to change our business approach or model.
Why are change management myths self-limiting?
If your business holds onto ‘false beliefs’ about change management then you are likely to be blindsided by failing to plan and manage any new initiative or project. So lets explore some of these myths and confront them head on in our change management journey.
Do we need leadership in change management
For change to happen it must be led, so who gets to set and lead change in the workplace?
There has been some discussion that for too long we have relied on outside experts to guide our change management journey, or that we try to straddle two competing approaches to change that assign leadership differently. Both discussions focus on the importance of leadership to achieving success in introducing change.
This leadership inevitable by default falls to managers. We can’t assume however that by assigning the role of ‘the leader’ and driver of change that our leaders (read managers) have the skills to take on the role.
Making change happen is NOT an innate skill of all leaders
In nursing we often used to talk about senior nursing managers being promoted based on their clinical and caring skills but failing to have the necessary ‘management’ skills. This insight reflects the reality that you can be promoted to a management position but still have a way to go before you all the skills necessary to successfully ‘own’ the role.
The same could be said for managers and change management skills – knowing how to successfully bring about change is a skill which will distinguish you from your colleagues and stand you in good stead.
Cultivating and developing your change management skill and leadership style will help you lead and drive change. So what are some of the key change management leadership skills worth developing. I’ve put together four worth your consideration
#1 Have an ear to the ground when leading change
Don’t surround yourself with ‘supporters’ who are all saying the same thing. Get out and about and listen to what your colleagues throughout the organisation as saying about the change initiative.It is not always going to be easy to ‘listen into’ the vibe or views of all levels of your organisation so your job is to develop strategies to gather input (anonymous or otherwise), listen to the chatter at key break or social events, dig into what is behind seemingly innocuous questions at Q & A sessions, and engage with the naysayers to get a better understanding of their resistance.
The key here is confronting the reality of the change, warts and all. Not everyone will embrace a change initiative. You need to understand this reaction and plan to address it in your messaging of the vision.
#2 Recognise and work with the winners and losers as you manage change
In any change there are ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and knowing who these are, what the nature of the gains and loses are and working with them to make the best of the change at an individual and organisational level.
This is a bit like playing the politics of workplace change. Knowing the real or perceived impact on a change and being prepared for, and genuinely building solutions, will go a long way to smoothing the way for the change.
#3 Stay on target – reinforce the strategy that is driving change
The imperative for change is often driven from strategy. Your business strategy is your planned response to changing strategic drivers such as market, people, profits, market share or regulation and often involves a change in business practice or systems.
Change management should revisit and reinforce the strategy and visions behind the change to give it a larger meaning and relevance to staff throughout the organisation. This is akin to aligning the organisation to the strategy.
#4 Confront the ambiguity and uncertainty of change
Change brings uncertainty and will often challenge and be confronting to those managers who are used to ‘having all the answers’ and being in control.
Adopting a more flexible and less determined approach to workplace challenges as you roll out change will support and encourage new solutions to the necessary business process re-engineering that is necessary to support the change.
So while making change happen is not an innate skill there are many ways that leaders can hone and develop the skills necessary to support strategic and business change.
Finally don’t forget to inject some fun into the change journey.
If you need some guidance on this I recommend you read my blog on ‘Could fun be the antidote to change resistance’.
Are you struggling with introducing change or simply want to support your managers in bringing about change? Contact me for more information and assistance.
Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. Harriet