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Managers As Change Agents


Posted by Insightlink on 09/29/14

Managing Change Successfully

Many managers who have not been trained to be effective change agents often see introducing changes into the workplace as a “tell and sell” exercise, usually done by calling a team meeting or sending a group email, all the while assuming that the essence of the problem and the need for change to occur is evident and obvious to everyone. Some managers assume that a problem is solved when employees verbally agree to a change. Others assume that a problem is solved when employees do not voice any questions, discussion or objections to a change. It may become evident only later that the employees neither accepted nor adopted the changes that were implemented due to denial, confusion or resistance. How can you, as a manger, become an effective change agent?

Many managers who have not been trained to be effective change agents often see introducing changes into the workplace as a “tell and sell” exercise, usually done by calling a team meeting or sending a group email, all the while assuming that the essence of the problem and the need for change to occur is evident and obvious to everyone. Some managers assume that a problem is solved when employees verbally agree to a change.

Others assume that a problem is solved when employees do not voice any questions, discussion or objections to a change. It may become evident only later that the employees neither accepted nor adopted the changes that were implemented due to denial, confusion or resistance. How can you, as a manger, become an effective change agent?

Change succeeds only when people accept and support it. It is not enough for a manager to tell people to change. Successful leaders understand how people respond to change and know what can be done to persuade them to change the way they work. They know that change is often difficult for people to embrace regardless of whether it takes place over time or suddenly and adhere to these basic cornerstones of change:  

  1. Communicate the change. Identify a vision and explain what is expected and what the result will be. This can be met with denial – a belief that nothing major is occurring or that it will have no impact on the group or individuals. It is important to begin building awareness of the impact of the change.
     
  2. Build an understanding of the change. Identify the expected outcome, criteria used to measure success and a timeframe. Understand the scope and develop plans to implement the change. This can be met with resistance ranging from negativity to opposition. It is important to be aware of how your people are responding to the change and for you, as a manager, to focus on resolving conflict and developing a cohesive effort.
     
  3. Encourage individual and group adaptation. Be aware that even in the midst of the same change, different people react differently and some people may need more time than others to adapt. How are people reacting? What are the causes of these reactions? Look for signs that people are becoming more comfortable or welcoming of the change and are learning how to develop new adaptation methods for themselves and others. It is important to focus on goal setting and problem solving.
     
  4. Implement the change. Utilize the involvement of stakeholders, team members and individuals as they become active participants in the change, make contributions and suggestions and initiate work on their own. The change becomes the new normal and stability ensues. Your role as a manger is that of a team builder.

By choosing to lead change and guide employees through the stages of denial, resistance, adaptation and involvement, you can take a leadership role in supporting changes that have value for the organization and for your employees.

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Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.



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