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By Shaifubahrim b.Mohd Saleh, Chairman, Pritchett Malaysia, and Advisor PIKOM
"You need to be well equipped with a comprehensive set of tools that will help you communicate effectively, despite there often being incomplete information"
Change agents protect profits, build corporate momentum, and improve productivity, while avoiding the common organizational traps during times of change and transition.
Lots of people find it more difficult to endure the ambiguity and waiting than to deal with actual changes once they occur. The "hang time" between announcement and implementation is typically very stressful and destabilizing. Uncertainty can damage productivity, quality, customer service, talent retention' and, ultimately, profitability.
New Work Habits uses hard facts and powerful logic to corner the reader with the reality of how he or she must change because of the radical shifts in the world.
We have looked earlier at some of the predictable ways in which we as people respond to change. Another dynamic to be aware of is the different stages that people go through with change sometimes referred to as “the change curve.” We are calling it the transition process.
People progress through three stages whenever they go through a transition and each stage produces different responses. Let’s remind ourselves what responses to expect at each stage then we’ll look at the tools we have to help us manage these responses.
You need to be well equipped with a comprehensive set of tools that will help you communicate effectively, despite there often being incomplete information; tools designed to help sustain productivity and performance; tools for identifying, recognizing, and overcoming, resistance; and tools that help ensure we don’t lose key people at a time when that risk is usually higher than normal.
Stories are a great way of capturing people’s attention and interest. Typically we remember stories better than we remember theories, concepts, or even facts. Stories are a very good method for influencing and growing commitment in others.
In addition to managing change, each of us is accountable for managing the problems that naturally come with change.
Managers need to set their employees’ expectations that, “No matter how well planned, change won’t be trouble-free.” This is the balanced perspective. Problems are inherent in change; they are not a sign that the change is wrong or being mismanaged.
Face-to-face communication brings its own unique challenges. We need to know what has highest impact in face-to-face communication—words, tone, or non- verbal communication?
Much research has been done on this. One of the expert findings was made by Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA. This reveals that, when we are communicating face- to-face about things such as feelings and attitudes, non-verbal communication accounts for 55% of the impact, tone accounts for 38% of the impact, and words account for only 7% of the impact.
When change happens, there are typically three different groups of reactions we will see.
There are individuals who, when they hear about some new change, their first response is to see how they can make that change work, or even how they can make it better. Their response is about moving with the change. These we usually call “Change Agents”the Change by Design group. Then there are always those who, when they hear about a change, their first reaction is to talk about why it won’t work, why it’s the wrong thing to do, why the present way is much better, and so on. These we call “Resisters”or the Change by Defiance group.
Then there’s a group of people who are undecided. They are not sure if the change is something they are for or are against. They focus on doing their current job the current way, but are influenced to align with whichever group they feel is right or knows the best way to go.
These are the “Fence-Sitters”the Change by Default group.
Interestingly, in a typical organization, youfind there are usually 20% Change Agents, 30% Resisters, and 50% Fence-Sitters.
Fence-Sitters are most likely to be swayed by the 30% Resisters rather than the 20% Change Agents
As managers tasked with leading people through change, it’s always helpful to challenge ourselves with the question: “Am I leading change, or am I leading resistance to change.
The implications of the Change initiative and its impact on the various elements are crucial in terms of organization design and alignment of capabilities – staff, structure, system, style, skill, shared values and so on.
The communication strategy is equally critical in mobilizing support and commitment from all stakeholders.
There are five key priorities that are crucially important for us as leaders to do to make any change successful:
1. Keep the business focused on customers and results
2. Set and manage expectations appropriately
3. Control the controllables
4. Get resistance out in the open
5. Re-recruit your key players