Formal Change Processes
Two formal change management processes that enable business change are project management and continuous quality improvement. These are essential components to management coaching training programs. Each of these is characterized by a step-based, sequential, analytical process that seeks to examine a variety of factors. While some of the steps may be intuitive, project management and continuous quality improvement processes are learned and applied consistently in order to assist businesses to manage change more effectively and more efficiently.
Informal Change Processes
Many informal change management processes rely more on the intuitive, gut approach. They follow a plan; it’s just that the plan is internal to the individual processing the information and communicating to others. The steps to the plan are not always clear to others.
How the Change Process Works
For example, a sales employee saw a need to introduce a tracking process for sales leads and closures. His company did not have a process. He introduced the need to his coworkers, managers, and the owner (presentation). He asked each of his coworkers, his managers, and the owner if it made sense (asked permission), asked each of the stakeholders for their input into the design of the tracking process (inclusion), presented a draft of the process for review and refinement (preparation and design), made changes to the proposed process (modification), developed a measurement process to determine how effective it would be (measurement), obtained final approval, and, with all stakeholders approval, implemented the tracking process (implementation).
Managers Facilitate Effective Change
I imagine some would read this example and ask why the manager and owner did not see the need and direct the change process. In fact, a central assumption to the concept of effective management and motivation of employees towards workforce alignment is that change can be initiated at any level of the business. The example simply illustrates that a manager does not need to manage the change; he simply needs to ensure that his employees are equipped with the tools to plan, measure, collaborate, involve other stakeholders, and solicit and incorporate feedback into the change process.
Managing and motivating smart of employees effectively values their knowledge, it becomes important to not diminish an employee’s capacity to initiate and implement a change process.
Conversely, if a manager believes he is in his position due to his unique ability to problem solve and to initiate and manage change it may inhibit active employee buy in and ownership of any change introduced by the manager.
Change Processes Work Best When Supported by Management
Some time ago when implementing continuous quality improvement practices within a business I managed, groups of employees were trained in the description, evaluation, and prescription process (analysis and/or scientific method). One of my managers, after listening to a presentation of recommendations from a work process improvement team, objected that I would empower employees to do what he was supposed to be doing. On reflection I asked the manager if he was the only person entitled to be familiar with the scientific method. Rather than work with his team to identify effective work process changes he objected to any effort by his employees to initiate change management.
It was clear that his employees did not share his perspective, yet they were acutely aware of his disapproval. I realized his challenge was more a result of underlying insecurity in his position – he was used to telling others what to do and did not readily embrace nor understand the benefit of having others learn how to initiate change. Ultimately, he was afraid he would lose his authority and position.
This example underlies the need to seek an understanding of other individual perspectives when looking at change opportunities in a business. It is not uncommon to find managers who will appear resentful when change is presented by others. The perfect world will often be altered by reality – low authenticity can result from low self-direction, role confusion, or low self-esteem, especially when people are not fully self-aware of their own talents, skills, behaviors, and values; and do not understand the benefit of fully valuing others talents, skills, behaviors, and values.