By: Austin Akufo Gamey, FIHRMP, MA. ADR. (PULSE)
There are a lot of concepts that exist concerning the matter of change management, but the fact is that organizational change in any form or shape can only be made visible and useful through a planned process exhibited through high quality leadership.
Change must be planned from the conceptualization stage to attainment of the expected results. This as earlier stated calls for high quality leadership that understands its role, and possesses core competencies required for sound labour-management relationships. However, the leader is responsible for even the most casual actions of the people they lead.
The key task of a leader is to negotiate perceptions for the building of trust.
Planned Change can only begin when the people have been made to have control of the vision of the organization. The leader negotiates perceptions based on the circumstances and the people’s view concerning the vision and indeed the mission to be embarked upon.
Perception is about clearing doubts, building strong labour-management relationship, and establishing the priorities for achieving the vision of an organization.
Leadership is both an art and science and the Board or Commissions at the apex of an organization are responsible for finality of the policy design. The execution is in the hands of the Executive who must provide feedback to the Board/Commission, and account for their stewardship. The Board/Commission is not responsible for the execution of policies in an organization. They formulate policies in line with the vision and mission of the organization and roll it over to the executive management to be translated into achievable results.
It is the executive’s responsibility to get the entire workforce to understand the processes of implementing strategies for achieving set targets.
There are three steps that are crucial for effecting change: visioning, obtaining the confidence of the workforce and effecting the change.
These three steps can be easily followed through in the PUSLE Discovery for responding to Planned Change.
At the heart of this process is the leaders’ ability to negotiate perceptions of the people from a position of mistrust and dissonance stage to a position where the change becomes acceptable by all for compliance. This is possible if the engagement is done organically, truthfully with all honesty.
The first stage is where the leader needs to formalize the need for change. They must engage with the people to assess the current state of the organization and the circumstances that calls for the change.
This calls for a brainstorming session to look out for what must be changed? Is it Economic pressures, Rapidly Changing Technologies, Customer Satisfaction, etc.? What will the organization be like if we do not change? And what will our future look like if we embark on this change?
At this stage the leader identifies issues and the potential consequences on the organization and its people. This calls for deep dialogue to find answers to questions like:
- What are the major issues involved in the change process?
- What are the consequences of not changing?
- What are the consequences of undertaking the change?
The next stage is about understanding what our priorities are, what is of importance to us and why we need to go all out to effect this change. The leader must at this stage help the people understand the priorities of the organization and what is of importance to everyone. They together with the workforce must determine whether the change is appropriate for the organization over the short, medium and long term, and what the impact of that change will be.
The leader has a responsibility to ensure that there is clarity at every level of the organization about the planned change.
The final stage is where the leader inquires and reconciles the expectation of the workers to that of the organization. What are our expectations concerning this change? What is our objective for doing it? What else do we need? What will be the impact of our decisions when implemented? The impact on the organization, teams and management?
At this stage, it is proper to define what business is. I know some define business as any organization or individual engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities. Others define a business as any organization involved in the trade of goods or services to consumers. While these definitions are sufficiently good and not wrong, they are overly precise.
I think a business is any person or group of people who have customers. This is because if you have someone willing to pay you voluntarily for the work you do, products you produce, or service you provide, then you are in business.
When all these aspects are properly managed, attitudinal change for responsibility and high endemic quality becomes the obvious outcome.
This change moves workers from dissonance posture to having a behavioral change. This is because of a change of their perceptions regarding the vision, objectives and operations of the business, especially about the vital role of customers keeping the organization in business.
The leader then brings clarity to analyze what the risk factors involved in all decisions about to take. The policy must be clearly understood by all without leaving room for any speculation or perceptions to breed.
Do we all approve it? And if we do then that calls for willful yet strict compliance to the norms and collective expectations for our mutual benefits. When everyone agrees and accepts the need for change, implementation, productivity and collaboration is assured because at that stage, everyone becomes responsible for their actions and play roles to bring about the desired result since they were a part of the entire process and are accountable for the kind of results produced.