Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Potential Challenges at Ingredient 4

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(creating alignment)

(NB Challenges are not necessarily in order of importance and includes some suggestions on how to handle the challenges)

. Too many plans, directives and programs but no shared focus/vision/purpose. This results in a lack or absence of alignment and causes a lack of direction for projects and activities despite an abundance of plans, directives and programs, and results in employees being confused or alienated.

. Not enough commitment and passion by both management and staff for the new direction

. Focus/purpose is

- not sensible

- not clear

- not simple

- inappropriate for the times

- not linking with core ideology (core purpose and core values)

- not sufficiently far-reaching, or is too far-reaching

- developed too quickly and is ultimately inappropriate

- lacking in consistency as "words, actions, deeds and reward/recognition/remuneration systems"are not reinforcing it

- not communicated enough to capture the "hearts and minds"

- an extension of the senior management's collective ego alone

- a whim or idea or cliche or fashionable/trendy catch-cry like "going for excellence", "going to a low-cost producer", etc

- a smoke-screen for another agenda, eg budget cuts are rationalised as a way to improve operations

- not linking with all the organisation's current and future activities and behaviours with the purpose, ie performance appraisal, compensation, etc.

- associated with negative aspects of the change like job losses, and in these cases there is a need to stress new growth possibilities, and a commitment to treat fairly anyone who is laid off or disadvantaged by the change

- limited use when the future is unknown

- can create a too-narrow focus

- has no passion in it

. Personal purposes (and values) of individuals are not compatible with the organisational purpose

. By becoming attached to images and ideals of the future as enunciated in the purpose statement, people can lose touch with reality. These ideals can become external standards, and be used to punish non-compliance, instead of inspiring new action. Idealists assume that people need "a new way of thinking". Corporate purpose statements can lock in attitudes and not allow the organisation to be receptive to the ever-changing realities of the market. They may encourage people to rule out certain behaviours, while praising and including others, to the detriment of the organisation.

. Not realising that the purpose, mission and value statements are useful techniques, especially in situations of significant organisational change, as they provide the bedrock that reassures staff that they still know what the organisation is about. In fact, if these statements are absent, then office politics fills the void. This is followed by guarded behaviours (eg people "playing it safe"and, consequently, a break-down in trust

. Not realising the importance of shared values - these are what bind the staff together and help to maintain consistency throughout the organisation. This puts the "fire in the belly", ie a motivation tool and is what holds staff together with one purpose, one set of values, one set of principles. For example,

- Proctor & Gamble have values that underscore the importance of leadership, ownership, integrity, passion for winning and trust

- IBM has its values based around the customer, world-improving innovation, respect and responsibility. IBM

"...uses these values as connective tissue, that has longevity. If people can connected and have pride in their entity's success, they will do what is important to IBM..."

Sam Palmisano(IBM) as quoted by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2008


"...Values aroused aspirations to increase the company's positive impact on the world, and that is worth more to many people than increases in compensation..."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2008

. Not realizing that staff are inclined to be more creative when the organisation's values stress helping the community. For example, Banco Real (a Brazilian arm of a European bank)

"...put social and environmental responsibility at the core of its search for differentiation. The result was a spate of new financial products, including consumer loans for green projects (such as converting autos or houses), micro-finance for poor communities, and the first carbon credit trading in the region.......also chose suppliers with high environmental and social standards and even helped them improve their practices. By 2007, it was enjoying the fruits of its values; it more than doubled its profitability, and had grown in size to become the third largest bank in Brazil..."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2008

. Not handling managers and staff who perform but do not share the values of the organisation in the transition process. Usually these managers perform in the short term but not the long term. Their short-term performance is based on an autocratic, command-and-control management style. Linked with values are personality, attitude and motivation

. Research (Fiona Smith 2008n) found that the more senior the employee, the greater the sacrifice of their personal values.

"... people are being measured to assess their fit for a job and culture, so they can 'hit the ground running' when they join a company - but the practice is also driving down diversity..."

Amanda Sinclair as quoted by Fiona Smith 3008p

. Not realizing that behaviours must reflect the espoused values, ie need to "walk the talk". An example of not walking the talk is Enron. Its values were communication, respect, integrity and excellence. Yet Enron ended up as one of the greatest financial collapses ever with its senior executives being jailed for corporate crimes.

. Obstacles to the new purpose and change are not removed. Obstacles can be in the individual's mind, and/or in the organisational structure (narrow job descriptions, rewards systems, middle managers' resistance, etc). Sometimes, rather than face the tough decisions, such as removing obstacles (including staff), management will introduce policies under the guise of "sharing the pain", such as across-the-board cutbacks (staff and/or pay, etc) and/or general pay freezes, etc. Most times these types of decisions are demonstrating that management is not facing reality and is not willing to make the "tough"decisions needed for the change process to be most effective. Remember: the pressure to avoid some tough decisions is often considerable, and may come from internal lobbying and sometimes external pressure from government, unions, community, etc

. Need to make information "stick", ie senior management members need to make their strategic intent abundantly clear so that their staff members know what to do and require minimal further instructions

"...Business managers often fail to grasp the crucial distinction between telling something and making information stick. Poor communications is one reason many companies that have devised brilliant strategies fail miserably in executing them..."

Michael Useem, 2002

According to Ram Charan, (2006b) to make information stick requires that you:

- allow people impacted by the change to have ownership of the problem and design of the solution

- base your change on hard data that is accessible to everyone

- institutionalize the change by starting with one project, then move to consistently apply repeatable processes that sustain it

- build accountability into such processes

- create interlocking dependencies between different parts of the organisation

- make the information "user friendly", ie receiver understands it, and its importance (level-appropriate)

- time the information aptly, ie receiver is able to be receptive (situationally and contextually).

Furthermore, as Dan and Chip Heath (2008) state, you need to make sure that the idea is memorable; it must be simple, unexpected and concrete. For an idea to be remembered, it must make people take notice, ie "sit-up and pay attention"; understand and remember it; people strongly agree/believe it; people care about it - so they act on it.

. Not identifying how to press the "right button", ie what will motivate staff to get aboard the change process. The debate revolves around 2 approaches, ie behaviourist vs cognitive psychology. The behaviourist view is that staff members are stimulated by constant exposure which accumulates and creates an internal mental response, such as continual advertising. In contrast, the cognitive approach states that people do not acquire information consciously: only 5 percent of what we know is still at the conscious level. Most information processing occurs at the unconscious level; this is at the level of recall or awareness and is the hardest to access

. Not realizing that intrinsic motivation, such as working on the people's strengths, passions, etc, is more powerful than external motivators, such as the "stick and carrot"approach. The intrinsic factors are "pull"rather than "push"strategies.

. Alignment involves a 2 way process in communications; a purpose may not be shared, because while management has a sense of direction, it is too complicated or blurry for other employees.

. Conflicting messages confuse people, and provide an excuse for not supporting the new direction.

. The organisation operates by authoritarian decree and/or by too much detail. Communication should not be dictatorial.

. Although everyone must be prepared for changes in behaviours and even in values, management establishes conditions that enable such change. If management is not authentic in their espoused convictions and sincere in their behaviour, there will be little trust and consequently little safety for the reflection that leads to authentic change.

. Not handling the trust and personal reflection gaps, iegaps exist between the statements and behaviours. There is a need to "walk the talk"or "lead by example". Remember that communication comes in deeds and words; with deeds being more powerful, ie "actions speak louder than words". Most people have grown cynical about the mismatch between espoused values and management's actual behaviour. The purpose is then not seen as a challenge but simply represents business as usual.

. Managers are trained in management techniques, and as a result can underestimate the importance of a shared purpose

. Be careful of the marathon syndrome, ie in a road race of 1,000 participants, the front runners take off like rabbits, others in the middle start slower, and some at the rear are still waiting to start. By the time the leaders have finished, those at the rear are just starting.

. Too many clogged channels of communications, such as too many hierarchical organisational layers or "silos"that can filter out the messages

. Information overload but shortage of effective communications, eg the warning on cigarette packets is an example of powerful information but ineffectual communication as only a few people have given up smoking because of it.

. Not managing upwards - this is about marshalling your superiors, rather than only concentrating on mobilising those staff below. Furthermore, it is about helping your boss and not manipulating for your own selfish needs. Remember: everyone is fallible!!!!! Even the most experienced bosses have blind spots. For example, many bosses are frequently tempted to put their own careers first and they may let their egos cloud their thinking or find convenient ways to rationalise decisions that are essentially based on their own self-interest. Also, staff can lose sight of the whole organisational needs by focusing too much on pleasing their bosses, or on only one stakeholder's demands, ie shareholders. Staff's responsibility is to help their bosses avoid the challenges that they have not seen.

. Managing upwards often feels wrong because of the hierarchical structure prevalent in most organisations. It requires tremendous diplomacy. On the other hand, many great organisations have struggled because faulty decisions were made at the top while middle managers "sat on their hands".

. Technology is a two-edged sword. It can be used as a logistic tool to achieve things more effectively and efficiently; on the other hand, it can easily sidetrack people's attention, as they are bombarded from an early age by fast-moving electronic games, e-mails, phone calls, SMS messages and other communications from their social networks, etc. As a result, it can be hard to retain people's attention.

. Assuming technology (eg Email, telecommunications such as video conferences, computer systems, etc)and technical skills are more important than human contact in communications and relationships between people. Change is about people! Remember: high-tech needs to be combined with high-touch! Personal contact is about relationship building and increasing trust with personal contact. On the other hand, remember:

"...people have been blaming communications technology for ruining their lives ever since the mid-19th century, when the telegram was introduced......blaming technologies for the social consequence is shooting the messenger..."

Jim Balsillie as quoted by Emma Connors, 2006

Email is an impersonal, cold, plastic means of communications. It is difficult to resolve personal confrontations via Email. Angry tones, abrupt manners and even humour can be incorrectly perceived by readers of Email and frequent use of the medium results in the loss of personal, one-to-one contact which is important for effective communications and learning. In fact,Email is a

"...perfect medium to breed conflict escalation. It encourages aggressive tactics, locks in dislike, and weakens inhibitions against aggression..."

Raymond Friedman et al, 2003

Furthermore, you lose the nuances of body language and facial expressions that are important for good communications, especially when doing anything creative like brainstorming or exploring new ideas or innovative strategies.

Technology, like e-mails, is speeding up the pace of doing business and interacting with other people. On the other hand, staff spend around 2 hours per day trying to keep their inbox in control (Fiona Smith, 2009ab). They may get around 150 e-mails daily and view e-mails up to 30 to 40 times per day. It has been estimated that it takes around 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after being interrupted by an e-mail. This means that people viewing their inboxes every 5 minutes waste 8.5 hours weekly. Furthermore, these interruptions are distractions; if people are distracted in the middle of a task, they are more likely to commit errors. In addition to e-mails, there are instant messaging, phone calls, voicemail, SMS, Face book, Twitter, annoying ring tones, etc to handle

Be warned:

"...when groups work mostly through e-mail or conference calls rather than face-to-face, they tend to fight more and trust each other less. Apparently, this happens because people don't get the complete picture that comes from being there, as e-mails and phone calls provided little information about the demands that people face and the physical settings they work in, and cannot convey things such as facial expressions, verbal intonations, posture and group mood. So group members develop incomplete opinions of one another. If you are in a group that works mostly via the Web and the phone, and a group seems like a bunch of assholes, technology may be fuelling the problem..."

Robert Sutton, 2007

Additional disadvantages of emails are that

- commercially sensitive or embarrassing information is more traceable than telephones

- it is easier to prevents courts and others from accessing confidential communications between a lawyer and their client.

According to Rachel Nickless (2007), to handle the disadvantages of e-mails, one organisation that has more than 50 staff, only allows 6 staff to have individual connections to the Internet. The organisation has a central e-mail connection that is checked every 20 minutes and messages are distributed to the appropriate staff. The benefits of this are that sales are up and error rates are down. Furthermore, debtors are paying more promptly as it is easier to ignore an e-mail than a phone call.

On the other hand, Email is a form of communications; use it to create real communities. When sending emails remember

i) by sending an email to more than1 person, you are creating a community

ii) people make mistakes ‐ give them the benefit of the doubt

iii) people mis-read content

iv) think before you respond

. Neglecting some of the short-term indicators like profitability, cash flow and return on capital, and concentrating on issues like core purpose and corporate entity. Need to get the short-term indicators right so that the organisation can survive in the long-term. Need to achieve the right balance between long-term and short-term indicators.

. Not realising that well thought-out communication is essential for managing conflicts that may arise from differential treatment of staff

. Not realising that there is a need to communicate differently with staff depending on individual strengths, ie "need to find the right button to press to get the results you want". Need to speak a different language to different employees, such as with an achievement-oriented person as against a strategy-oriented person. Furthermore, there is the need to listen and understand differences in staff

. Not understanding fundamental techniques in handling people, ie

- don't criticise, condemn or complain

- give honest and sincere appreciation

. Not understanding ways to make people like you

- become genuinely interested in other people

- smile

- remember people's names

- be a good listener (encourage others to talk about themselves)

- talk in terms of the other person's interests

- make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely

. Not understanding how to win people to your way of thinking

- the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it

- show respect for the other person's opinions (never say: "you're wrong")

- if you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically

- begin in a friendly way

- get the other person saying "yes, yes"immediately

- let the other person do a great deal of talking

- let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers

- try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view

- be sympathetic to the other person's ideas and desires

- appeal to the nobler motives

- dramatise your ideas

- throw down a challenge

. Not appreciating ways for changing people's attitudes and behaviours

- begin with praise and honest appreciation

- call attention to people's mistakes indirectly

- talk about your own mistakes before criticising the other person

- ask questions instead of giving direct orders

- let the other person save face

- praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise

- give the other person a fine reputation to live up to

- use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct

- make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

(source: Dale Carnegie, 2003)

. Not understanding how to stop a disagreement from becoming an argument, ie

- need to welcome disagreement

- distrust your first instinctive impression

- control your temper

- listen first

- look for areas of agreement

- be honest

- promise to think over your other people's ideas and study them carefully

- postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem

(source: Dale Carnegie, 2003)

. Not realising that communication is a continuous process and not a single event. In all communications, the message about the change process is included, eg

- in routine discussions about a business problem, the proposed solutions are discussed as to how they fit into the new direction;

- during regular performance appraisals, employees' activities, behaviours, etc are discussed in relation to the new direction;

- when reviewing business performance, in addition to discussing the numbers, the behaviour of individuals is discussed in ways contributing to the transformation

But most senior management members communicate poorly by

- holding a single meeting to communicate the new direction

- making speeches to selected employee groups

- some very visible senior executives still behave in ways that are not reflecting the new direction

Remember: change is only possible with the help of staff and they need to be communicated to so that they understand what the change is all about. Without credible communications that captures their hearts and minds, staff will not make the necessary sacrifices, even if they are unhappy with the status quo.

(source: John Kotter, 2007)

. Not realizing that people are ultimately motivated by 1 of 2 fundamental emotional needs

"...the need to be admired or the need to be understood. For the most part, people have a fundamental need to be understood and it's this that often forms the basis of the emotional contract. By taking the time to communicate that you understand a person's experience, you establish a level of common ground that overcomes resistance and forms the basis for becoming receptive to you and your ideas..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

. Need to be careful of the 'deficiency motivation', ie

"...People often approach the challenge of achieving their potential by a desire to get more of something that they feel is missing, such as power, social approval, status, money or love. They work hard to be what they imagine they should be and to do what they think they should, both personally and professionally. In other words, they strive to achieve goals that originate as an extrinsic motivation..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

Extrinsic motivation is different from intrinsic motivation; the latter emerges from a desire to engage in an activity because you value it for the inherent satisfaction it provides

. Not realizing that people need to feel that they are in control

"'s a feeling of not being in control......causes people to feel a lack of freedom and to feel trapped or vulnerable......negative emotions, such as anger, frustration and anxiety. Negative emotions are the primary causes not only of underachievement and failure, but also of bullying and passivity.....Every destructive emotion that we experienced as adults, we had to learn. It starts in early childhood through the process of imitation, practice, repetition and reinforcement. And, since negative emotions are learned, like most things, they can be unlearned and their effect on your behaviour minimized..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

Anxiety at its most basic levels is about feeling the loss of control. There are 2 extreme ways of coping, ie control freak or defaulting to others' views or position to avoid conflict so that you are not responsible or accountable.

" clear about what you want to take responsibility for......and nobody can make you feel mad, bad or sad without your permission. As the Gestalt prayer reminds us, you are not here to live up to other peoples' expectations and they are not here to live up to yours..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

. Sometimes short-term sacrifices in the change process will include job losses. Because it is hard to gain support and understanding when downsizing is part of the future, any statement about the future should include new growth possibilities and a commitment to treat everyone fairly, including those who are losing their jobs

. Not realizing that the factors that attract staff, retain staff and engage staff can be different and/or have varying degrees of significance. Some examples,

- a competitive pay base is more important in attracting staff than retaining and/or engaging them

- an organisation's reputation as a great place to work and career advancement opportunities are important in attracting, retaining and engaging staff

- organisation's reputation for social responsibility is important for obtaining and engaging staff.

. Not appreciating that alignment is important and it does not mean harmonious agreement. There is a need for some creative tension and competition that will challenge the status quo but not cause dysfunction. For challenges to be handled proactively and productively the following framework is suggested

- focus on high impact issues, ie challenge the important and complex issues that will lead to a noticeable and sustainable improvement

- focus on the future, ie

"... forget the past and power struggles that are history, and don't bother appropriating blame..."

Saj-Nicole A Joni et al, 2010

Look for long-term benefits that are achievable and which people are willing to work on.

- pursue a noble purpose, ie go beyond self-interest to unleash profound collective imagination and abilities

. Some guidelines on how to manage the appropriate challenges to the status quo

- make it a battle but not a war with clearly defined rules for the discussion, eg no dirty politics. For example, Jack Welch set up a competition between the 3 potential competitors for the top job at GE

- work formally and informally - use the professional and personal connections that are not reflected in the formal structure plus the informal processes, such as corridor conversations, personal favours, relationships, etc

- turn pain into gain - there will be losers; communicating with and handling them is important. Remember:

" get people to step up and take risks, you have to reward risk-taking itself, not just successful outcomes..."

Saj-Nicole A Joni et al, 2010

. Not realizing some inappropriate management approaches to change include

"...We spring change upon people without any explanation.....and expect them to nod their heads in submissive agreement.

We communicate the change via announcement......rather than by open dialogue.

We perceive resistance as a negative response...... and ignore that it is a legitimate attempt to protect the investment which got us to where we are.

We expect people to buy into our solutions......rather than enlist them to solve their own problems.

We believe the role of management is to make decisions......rather than to lead people towards solutions.

We demand that change occurs immediately......when we know that real, deep, permanent change takes time.

We see people who won't change as the enemy......rather than as proof that we haven't made the case for change.

We insist that change can occur without error......when we know that learning any new skill may involve initial failure.

We believe that people always resist change...... when we know for a fact that people embrace huge personal change and only resist those changes we attempt to force upon them.

Even though our change projects fail, we resist changing how we implement change, finding it easier to blame those who resist how we implement change..."

Peter de Jager, 2010


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