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“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Why Change (the storey behind the change)?
“Global growth is projected to reach 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, in line with the forecast of the April 2018 World Economic Outlook (WEO), but the expansion is becoming less even, and risks to the outlook are mounting.
The rate of expansion appears to have peaked in some major economies and growth has become less synchronized. In the United States, near-term momentum is strengthening in line with the April WEO forecast, and the US dollar has appreciated by around 5 percent in recent weeks.
Growth projections have been revised down for the euro area, Japan, and the United Kingdom, reflecting negative surprises to activity in early 2018. Among emerging market and developing economies, growth prospects are also becoming more uneven, amid rising oil prices, higher yields in the United States, escalating trade tensions, and market pressures on the currencies of some economies with weaker fundamentals.
Growth projections have been revised down for Argentina, Brazil, and India, while the outlook for some oil exporters has strengthened”. – Source: International Monetary Fund.
The advanced economies growth rate is not anywhere near the emerging economies or the global economy projected rate. When things are not moving in the right direction, what is required is to initiate a change to propel the growth.
The Change Process – Kotter’s theory
Change Management – Kotter’s theory of change management explains that the change process goes through eight phases as explained above. Business transformation or innovation is driven by three forces and they are people, process and technology. However, people are a critical part as they drive process improvement and they use and optimise the technology. However, people are apprehensive about change mainly because of fear of failure. Fear as two options, the first option is to forget everything and run or face everything and rise. However, we are all human and when we are drawn out of comfort zone we go through four phases as shown below.
The first phase is a comfort zone, the second one is fear zone and the third one is the learning zone and finally, when we conquer fear we enter the growth zone. Unless one comes out of the comfort zone, nothing changes.
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Change management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcome in order to align with organisational goals and objectives. Change management is the process of incorporating the organizational tools that can be utilized to help individuals make successful personal transitions resulting in the adoption and realization of change.
“The only thing that is constant is change.” – Heraclitus
The survey conducted by Deloitte indicated that “Change is a transition from one state to another. Change is continuous and embraces all areas of life and activity of a single person, organisation or society at large.” And 68% of survey participants agreed to this conclusion.
Change Management is meant to support the organisation in its transition from the current to the target state of the organisation and people are a critical part of the change process and any change should be managed from stage to stage, the process of change needs controlled approach, the objective of the change management is the targeted future state of the organisation.
The biggest hurdle to any change management is resistance. This theory was substantiated by the findings of the Deloitte survey as explained below:
When we talk about organizational change we need to mention that this process isn’t simply a journey from point A to point B. You will need to pass many barriers if you want to succeed in your intentions to improve your organisational performance. One of the biggest barriers is resistance to change as an integral part of each change process. Few of the reasons for resistance are listed below:
1. Lack of Clarity
2. Losing the control
3. Threat to comfort
4. Job’s security
5. Implications on personal plans
6. Misunderstanding the process
7. Mistrust – Lack of confidence in the proposed change
8. Fear of unknown – Fear of failure?
9. Lack of communication and transparency
10. Peer pressure.
Overcoming resistance to change
“Leadership is an organizational imperative when managing change, and leaders who inspire a cultural shift in their staff have the greatest success in managing change. In a PwC survey, nearly two-thirds of staff surveyed felt that a top leader is in charge of change management, and almost half felt that top leaders should be in charge of cultural change. The good news here is that the same number of people felt that cultural change is also their responsibility.” The biggest problem we face today is the cultural change and which is in today’s world is being outsourced. The main reason for that is fear of failure. Today’s leaders have to recognise the grit the power of passion revealed by Angela Duckworth. Her theory reveals that effort * tallet = skill and skill * Effort = Achievement. Leaders are not brave enough to take up the challenge and they expect their colleagues to go through the cultural change driven by an outside agency who do not understand the emotional and cultural intricacies of the organisation.
The simple answer to tackle the resistance is to address the resistance to change. My recommendation in tackling the resistance to change is as follows:
1. Show empathy and not sympathy with the affected people.
2. Educate the people involved in the change about the change and the outcome.
3. Be transparent, share both positive and negative outcomes of the change.
4. Communicate effectively (walk the talk), both verbal and written.
5. Identify change agents and drive through the change agents.
6. It is not a top-down process, it is bottom-up engagement.
7. Be a leader and lead the change from the front and be accountable.
8. Understand the cultural and emotional challenges of the team and take initiatives to address them.
Let me end this article with wise words of Kelly A Morgan – “Changes are inevitable and not always controllable. What can be controlled is how you manage, react to and work through the change process.”