Basics of Managing Change

Dr Vijay Sangam, 23:17, 05 Jul 2010

We are all used to doing things in a particular fashion and if we are asked to do the same thing in a different way, we feel that we are challenged (threatened). Because we are drawn out of our comfort zone and at the same time we are uncertain about the impact of change and its repercussions. Change may not be always good for every one. For instance, outsourcing an activity could cost jobs for few. Where as this change could bring cost reduction to the organization. Hence, the change agent handling the change process needs expertise to understand perspectives from both sides and also should be able to handle emotional impact on humans. Businesses can survive change because of their sustainability. However, some humans may not have the ability to withstand the change process. It is very much essential to handle the change process with a well drawn out plan to handle human side of change process.

The success of any change process depend lot on successful communication, training and education. The Change Agent should display leadership skills in clearly establishing the vision and share the same with one and all involved in the process and continuously educate and train people to adopt the change process. The objective is to establish clarity and avoid ambiguity which leads to aggravation of fear and in turn leads to distraction and destruction.

In my opinion the communication means both talking and listening. The purpose of communication is creating understanding. A very well packaged change message is delivered to a group of people who are not interested and not willing to participate in the communication process, means disaster. The change agent should first create enthusiasm in the team involved and make them participate in the discussion before even attempting to present the topic of change. If group presentation is not ideal keeping in view of low participation, the change agent should not hesitate to initiate one to one conversation to explain the change. The time spent in establishing the clarity should be considered as an investment because it eliminates confusion.

The communication method could be oral presentation or written communication. Humans tend to ignore written communications at times. In order to create interest the ideal first communication should be an oral presentation followed by a written communication in order to emphasize what was presented verbally. This would also act as reference point in future.

When it comes to the content of the communication, it should certainly contain, Who, What, When and How. The objective is to make the communication crisp and clear. The answers to these questions should address ambiguity if any in the communication process.

Efficient communication is a vital tool for any Change Agent. As mentioned earlier, the communication also includes listening. The change agent should be willing to listen in order to deliver a robust change process. Clear communication is the stepping stone for success. Many other factors could influence the outcome of the change process ultimately. However, all could be well that begins well.

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