How Great Leaders Manage Change

Posted by on Jan 8, 2018 in Featured, Individuals, Miscellaneous, Organizations, Women | 0 comments


As a discipline, the management of organizational change has been in existence for more than 50 years; yet nearly three-quarters of all such endeavors fail miserably.

Not only do companies fall well short of their financial targets, but untold psychological damage is done, both to those who lose their jobs, and those who don’t.

Traditionally, the blame for all this has been laid at the door of employees. The presumption has been that the leaders “did the right things,” but that try as they might, managers couldn’t get the people to “do things right.”

And it’s still widely believed that it is the employees who do all they can to maintain the status quo, through insubordination, absenteeism and, to a certain extent, sabotage.

The evidence, however, doesn’t support this conclusion. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The primary reason that change fails to occur in organizations is because the leaders have created a culture that resists it. In other words, the internal structures and operational policies of companies are designed to prevent the very change they claim that they want.

Fundamentally, leaders attempt to obtain the benefits of change by leaving things more or less the way they are. This is perhaps the central reason why employees are less than enthusiastic about programs that are supposed to bring changes to their companies. They know from past experience that after all the fanfare, eventually everything will settle down, and things will return to normal.

In order for change to occur, two things were necessary:

The first one was that the goal had to be desirable. In other words, it had to be something that people, individually or collectively, really wanted to see happen.

The second thing was that people had to believe that they could do it. If they lacked the confidence in themselves, then it didn’t matter how desirable it was.

If, and only if, those two things were in place, people would then put forth the effort to make it happen.

Now, this is where the problem arises.

On the face of it, there appears to be two questions: 1) Why don’t employees want their organizations to change, and 2) Why don’t they believe that they’re capable of it?

There are two perspectives at work.

Leaders are focusing on the first question, while the employees are concerned with the second.

Leaders are busy trying to find ways to get people to want to change, but those that they’re supposed to be following don’t believe anything will actually change. And if you don’t believe that change will occur, why put forth the effort? Why knock yourself out and make more work for yourself if, at the end of the day, it won’t make any difference?

Great leaders recognize this. They acknowledge that it has been their policies and actions that have led to thoughts and behaviors that their employees have now. They realize that in order to get their people to embrace the changes they want, that they, as leaders, have to alter those policies.

They have to break down the resistant organizational structures, especially the infighting and politics that comes from competition which they themselves have encouraged within their own companies. And they know that, if it’s going to be successful, then it’s essential to get everyone to work together towards a positive end.

So rather than blaming others for the failure of organizational change, great leaders take personal responsibility for it.

Organizational change will not occur unless the organization itself changes first.

You can attack the fringes all you want to; but unless the process occurs at the core, everything will eventually go back to the way it was.

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