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Change processes and change projects are the milestones in any organization's history. Due to the dynamics in the external environment, many organizations find themselves in nearly continuous change. The scope reaches from smaller change projects in particular sub business units up to corporation-wide transformation processes. Similarly many risks are associated with change process. To overcome such risk organizations requires having effective change agent. Anyone can be change agent unless they possess certain qualities. As a multidisciplinary practice, Organizational Change Management requires for example: creative marketing to enable communication between change audiences, but also deep social understanding about leadership's styles and group dynamics. As a visible track on transformation projects, Organizational Change Management aligns groups' expectations, communicates, integrates teams and manages people training. It makes use of metrics, such as leader's commitment, communication effectiveness, and the perceived need for change to design accurate strategies, in order to avoid change failures or solve troubled change projects. An effective change management plan needs to address all above mentioned dimensions of change. This can be achieved in following ways:
Putting in place an effective Communication strategy which would bridge any gap in the understanding of change benefits and its implementation strategy.
Devise an effective skill upgrading scheme for the organization. Overall these measures can counter resistance from the employees of companies and align them to overall strategic direction of the organization.
Personal counseling of staff members (if required) to alleviate any change related fears.
Change management is a basic skill in which most leaders and managers need to be competent. There are very few working environments where change management is not important.
When leaders or managers are planning to manage change, there are five key principles that need to be kept in mind:
Different people react differently to change
Everyone has fundamental needs that have to be met
Change often involves a loss, and people go through the "loss curve"
Expectations need to be managed realistically
Fears have to be dealt with
Here are some tips to apply the above principles when managing change:
Give people information - be open and honest about the facts, but don't give overoptimistic speculation. I.e. meet their OPENNESS needs, but in a way that does not set unrealistic expectations.
For large groups, produce a communication strategy that ensures information is disseminated efficiently and comprehensively to everyone .E.g.: tell everyone at the same time. However, follow this up with individual interviews to produce a personal strategy for dealing with the change. This helps to recognise and deal appropriately with the individual reaction to change.
Give people choices to make, and be honest about the possible consequences of those choices. Ie meet their control and inclusion needs
Give people time, to express their views, and support their decision making, providing coaching, counselling or information as appropriate, to help them through the LOSS CURVE
Where the change involves a loss, identifies what will or might replace that loss - loss is easier to cope with if there is something to replace it. This will help assuage potential fears
Where it is possible to do so, give individuals opportunity to express their concerns and provide reassurances - also to help assuage potential fears.
Keep observing good management practice, such as making time for informal discussion and feedback even though the pressure might seem that it is reasonable to let such things slip - during difficult change such practices are even more important.
Where you are embarking on a large change programmes, you should treat it as a project. That means you apply all the rigours of project management to the change process - producing plans, allocating resources, appointing a steering board and/or project sponsor etc.. The five principles above should form part of the project objectives.
Some of the effective change agent qualities are describe below.
Depending on factors like corporate culture, strategic relevance of project, acceptance of project among management and staff, timeframe, resources etc, change agents either may need good project management capabilities in order to guarantee timely progress, or they should be good leaders with the ability to motivate people.
Change agents always need the ability to get all people affected by the project involved, to ensure their support and commitment. This requires a high competency as the basis for acceptance as well as soft skills, which are often summarized as emotional intelligence. This includes the ability to communicate, to understand and to take into account opinions and doubts of others. Change projects involve a great variety of factors and forces. These factors do not only comprise the reasons and objectives for change, but also the existing state of the organization, values, beliefs and routines of the people there. Many change projects challenge the existing cultural framework of an organization. Efforts to change such lasting values, however, lead to resistance and denial. More than in technology-related projects (e.g. implementation of new software), it takes the acceptance and the support of all people affected by such projects to make them succeed. It is the change agent's task to generate this acceptance in order to implement change with the people, not against them.
15 Key Competencies of Change Agents
Despite the multi-faceted and ever changing demands on professionals as change
agents, there are definable competencies that can be understood and learned.
the successful change agents have the ability to:
Diagnose problems - Understanding both the business drivers and the organization
well enough to identify performance issues and analyze their impact on short and
long term business results
Build relationships with clients - Forming partnerships with mutual responsibility
for the outcomes of the change effort. Because the risk is higher than with most other
HR roles the level of trust required is much higher. Management consultant Ric
Reichard uses a simple formula to describe the issues which are usually at play
Often the client and the change agent over emphasize one or the other (competency or
relationship) especially when the risk increases while the challenge is to balance both
to achieve the necessary level of trust.
Ensure that the Vision is Articulated - Interpreting the hopes and motivations of
the workforce through the Vision statement.
Set a Leadership Agenda - Defining the ongoing role for leaders, such as
communications, role modeling, reinforcement of desired behaviours etc. This
requires the HR executive to understand intimately the dynamics, history and
competencies of the leadership team and to have the tenacity to insist on the agenda's
Solve Problems - Recommending solutions, a common expectation of HR
professionals is not the same as solving problems. When it comes to the change agent
role, the problems encountered are often loaded with emotional and political
dynamics. The change agent must possess the insight to recognize the problem, the
sensitivity to see its importance to those involved, the courage to take honest and
often difficult measures to resolve it and the credibility to be heard.
Implement Plans to Achieve Change Goals - Successful organizational change on
any significant scale can be attributed to the right strategy and appropriate change in
organization culture. Culture change, in turn, relies heavily on aligned and supportive
people policies, systems and processes. In short, the implementation plan is an HR
plan for both the HR function and for management.
Complementing the competencies identified above, we would add the following as
essential for effectiveness as a change agent:
superb communications ability in all directions
knowledge of the business; products/services and core work processes
keeping a business perspective both macro (mission/vision) and micro (what line
managers cope with)
planning and project management skills
ability to tolerate ambiguity
It is apparent that these are a blend of personal attributes and developed skill sets. A
change agent working at the strategic level cannot be effective without them.
Having a clearly articulated competency model for the change agent role is one thing;
acquiring the knowledge and skills to function effectively in this role is another.
Effectiveness in any role is a combination of competence and confidence Following are
four elements that are essential in developing both:
Education and Training
Formal education and training that is comprehensive enough to really equip an HR
professional for the change agent role is quite limited in this country. However, several
Universities, such as University of Toronto and Queen's University are now offering
change management programs within their Executive Development divisions. These
range from 3 days to 15 days of professional development sometimes with a practicum
Five years ago we would have encouraged HR professionals to find some "neutral"
territory for practicing their new skills. Today this is clearly impractical as organizations
demand that the skills be put to use immediately. The change agent is not exempt from
this reality but the "practicing" is often more visible and the risk higher than in other
aspects of the HR role. This is where the next two elements come into play.
Feedback & Reflection
"Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement" - the
simple (however painful) truth in that expression is familiar to everyone The most
important thing you can experience as a change agent is not success. Nor is it failure. It is
honest feedback about your performance and impact and the time to reflect on and learn
For executives functioning as change agents, there is often no one inside the
organization to talk to. The issues are often too strategic or too sensitive to discuss
openly. A support system should include people who know the nature of your work and
the satisfactions, stresses and risks associated with it. One of the most important people in
your support system will be the colleague whom you can count on to challenge you, help
you see your shortcomings and follow-up on what specifically you are doing about them
1. Sensitivity to changes in key personnel, top management perceptions and market conditions, and to the way in which these impact the goals of the project.
2. Setting of clearly defined, realistic goals.
3. Flexibility in responding to changes without the control of the project manager, perhaps requiring major shifts in project goals and management style.
4. Team-building abilities, to bring together key stakeholders and establish effective working groups, and to define and delegate respective responsibilities clearly.
5. Networking skills in establishing and maintaining appropriate contacts within and outside the organization.
6. Tolerance of ambiguity, to be able to function comfortably, patiently and effectively in an uncertain environment.
7. Communication skills to transmit effectively to colleagues and subordinates the need for changes in the project goals and in individual tasks and responsibilities.
8. Interpersonal skills, across the range, including selection, listening, collecting appropriate information, identifying the concerns of others, and managing meetings.
9. Personal enthusiasm in expressing plans and ideas.
10. Stimulating motivation and commitment in others involved.
11. Selling plans and ideas to others by creating a desirable and challenging vision of the future.
12. Negotiating with key players for resources, for changes in procedures, and to resolve conflict.
13. Political awareness in identifying potential coalitions, and in balancing conflicting goals and perceptions.
14. Influencing skills, to gain commitment to project plans and ideas form potential skeptics and resisters.
15. Helicopter perspectives, to stand back from the immediate project and take a broader view of priorities.
Source: D. Buchanan & D. Boddy: The Expertise of the Change Agent: Public performance and backstage activity. Prentice Hall. 1992
Reflecting upon my own attitudes values and behaviour I have identified the areas of change required to be an effective change leader. To become such I need to focus on all factors describe in task 1 .In addition to that I need to have full knowledge of the organization and the staff frame of mind working there including its market customer and relationship. There is always more than right solution so I must be able to evaluate facts from different view eg from customer and competitors point. To motivate and guide the staff to become effective change agent I need to focus on their behaviour and attitudes towards their role in organization. Should be able to find out who can be assest to company doing so and how.
Plan of action to maintain effectiveness as change agent is outlines below:
Communication: Communication with possible change agents is necessary via meeting to find out their action plan and goals for future. To find out in what ways can staff and units will be more productive and welcoming. Are they looking at different ways to handle most difficult clients for better outcomes? The solution here would be to focus not only handling these clients but to reduce stress on overall staff solving the clinical issues.
Address the work Change Agents are doing in their productivity plans.
Some change agents will take one to two weeks or less depending on interest, motivation and time. More than likely supervisors will want to adjust productivity time based on performed work. So change agent here should know exactly what is needed in order to meet the productivity requirements.
Meetings: It is important for change agent to attend monthly and quarterly meetings to have an idea on obtaining training around the made action plans and to know how to implement at work scenario.
Beside these change agent should
Educate staff on strategies, customer care, assessment etc. Participate in case discussions about re-occurring disorders. Provide updates and training to the staff. Create the implementation of Action plan/policy to improve general quality of the service.
Any changes made in the organization must be integrated with other business and management disciplines. Integration primarily occurs in one of two ways. First, introduction of the importance of change management and second making a commitment to build change competence and utilizing changes on every project as an standard practice. When change management is started at the beginning of a project, the activities can be fully integrated. The first step will be to develop a change management strategy based on the characteristics of the particular change and the attributes of the organization that is being changed. Change readiness assessments will help you decide on your strategy and how you will customize the change management plans you are going to develop. The following steps describe below will give a clear picture of how integration should be carried out.
Define objectives and project benefits with project sponsor
Set the timeline and milestones
Initial budget preparation
Team selection and team building
Define communication system within the project
Identify the main stakeholders and members of project holding committee
Make draft of the plan
Review with sponsor
Finalize the plan
Schedule first meeting with committee
Prepare presentation for committee and review it with sponsor
Gather all data collection requirements
Delegate responsibilities among team members
Conduct managers and employee interviews
Conduct customer surveys
Identify main competitors and non competitors
Prepare all research report
Again prepare presentation for committee reviewing with sponsor.
Review all detail of the findings
Define principles and concepts for the future
Create documents for system and technology requirements
Define the change required and the new roles and responsibilities
Make a draft of solution design and finalize
Prepare presentation for meeting with key committee and sponsor
Conduct gap analysis between as-is and to-be phase
Determine cost savings and revenue growth from new solution
Also estimate for system and technology
Implementation cost for project should be clearly estimated
Outline business case for new design and compare with initial objective and ensure the alignment
With accounting group review the financial calculation.
Involve the committee and sponsor in the final review of project
Buy the required system and technology
Conduct the trial
Detail job description is needed and review with HR and legal department
Training requirements should be defined and curriculum should be develop.
Develop control process
Train new employees on new process and tools/systems
Collect employee and manager feedback
Modify the solution according to feedback
If any issues arises during implementation process track and resolve.
Ensure the alignment with business strategy
Measure the performance outcome and compare
Change management can be applied to many types of business improvement programs - from radical changes like BPR, mergers and acquisitions or new product releases to incremental changes like continuous improvement processes or Six Sigma. Change management is the process and tools - such as communications, sponsorship, coaching, and training and resistance management plan - for addressing the people side of change. Change management is not an event - it is a process of helping individuals understand, internalize and support a change.