Effective Change Management is Proactive

Change is a constant. It’s always been with us, it always will be, and it’s never easy. That’s something that doesn’t change.

But the challenge of dealing with it is greater today because the pace of that change is accelerating. Only fifty years ago, we had decades to adjust to significant changes. Today we often have only a year or two. Science, technology, transportation, and communications are advancing so rapidly that all of life seems to be in constant transition.

That means that at times you may have to be ready and willing to make major changes to your business and your life. You must be willing to abandon everything you’ve built, if necessary, in order to survive and prosper.

Most people can’t do that. People naturally don’t like change because it creates uncertainty. They instinctively resist it because they fear the unknown.

Effective change management is learning to anticipate the need and deal with it on our own terms. We must anticipate change so we’re not surprised by it. And we must anticipate where their market or industry is headed so we can get out in front of it.

Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest hockey players of all time, captured the essence of this principle when he said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Prospects frequently ask me “What if we try something different and it doesn’t work I respond the same way each time, “Do you think sticking with the status quo is a viable option? How’s that working for you?”

Obviously it isn’t or I wouldn’t be there.

We change only when the pain to change is less than the pain to remain as we are.

Nothing wrong with that. But too often we don’t recognize how much pain we’re in until it’s too late.

Many of today’s business owners and managers are in denial. They are refusing to face the seriousness of the changes that are occurring in the workplace from such things as –

• Global competition.

• Advances in technology.

• Automation.

• Increased governmental intervention.

• Immigration.

• Changing values and motivations of workers (Gen X, Gen Y).

What are you doing as a leader to anticipate change?

What are you doing to stay current with new market and employment trends?

What are you doing to encourage and help your employees upgrade their skills and knowledge?

If you’re like most business executives, I’m afraid your honest answer would have to be, “Not nearly enough.”

You are your company’s change agent.

That means that you must intentionally develop your company’s workforce and processes to stay in front of change. Personally dealing with change is one thing. Helping others deal with it is another.

You can help people more effectively manage change by –

• Helping them understand the reasons for it by taking time to communicate clearly about the issues and the options. Make sure everyone involved understands the rewards of change and the consequences of not changing.

• Considering the impact of changes on the people involved and taking steps to minimize adverse effects.

• Giving people opportunities to share in the positive benefits of change. People want to know WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?)

• Implementing new policies, procedures, and approaches as organized components to well-conceived plans rather than as knee-jerk reactions to circumstances.

Get in front of it or you and make it easier to manage.

Martin Harshberger is President of Measurable Results LLC, and Bottom Line Coach. His coaching practice works with businesses to clarify strategy, develop new products and services, and improve bottom line results. He helps businesses develop options through improved profitability and cash flow.

His new book just released Bottom Line Focus is available at the website or on Amazon. www.bottomlinecoach.com

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