There is a well-regarded article in Harvard Business Review by Robert H. Schaffer which defines and states that all management is change management. We can certainly observe and experience that in today’s pandemic new normal of endless market disruptions and changes.
We turned to Jun Famatigan, our resource person on leadership and management, to enlighten us on how best to accomplish change management. Here are his thoughts and advice:
It is not surprising that change management is having its moment now—after all, change management is but the process that ensures a business responds to the environment in which it operates. It is at the very core of what leaders and managers are expected to do well. However, the sad truth is about two-thirds of transformation programs fail.
If it is so important then why do people resist it? Why is it hard to get right?
Faulty implementation is widely seen as the principal reason for failure so most organizations focus on improving execution. But research has shown that the decision on what change to prioritize is just as important. So the question is not just “how to change” but “what to change.”
So how can we raise the chances of success of a change initiative?
Be very clear on the value you wish to pursue
Where do you want to go? Is it something people will readily understand and identify with? Your choice should be compelling and an unqualified priority. When you talk of value it could be either efficiency or growth or a combination of both. Your targets need to be very clear.
Compelling goals can be something like “Be the leading digital bank in terms of onboarded accounts and volume transactions” or “Revamp supply chain and inventory management to attain sales margin of at least 30 percent.”
Do you have the capabilities and the needed mindset to see the program through? Be realistic on how you will address gaps, if there are any. What investments or intervention do you need to make?
If your goal is similar to an example cited previously related to supply chain and inventory, the team must assess the strength of supplier relationships, purchasing practices, and automation of inventory management.If the transformation goal is similar to the example of the digital bank, you must assess the availability of digital experts in the organization, the robustness and reliability of the digital platform and the agility of the workforce to adapt to the new business model.
With a clear picture of where you are today and where you want to go you then create a plan that’s going to get you from here to there. The plan must be anchored on four things: why people need to change and what’s in it for them, the systems and processes needed, the skills required and the behavior that leaders must exhibit.
Transformation is a journey and it is never easy. You usually start with a burst of energy and perhaps enthusiasm. But these may flag when the journey gets hard and when results do not come through quickly as expected. What is important is to have signifiers that will create energy and confidence that the team is in the right direction. Targeting quick wins helps. It may mean making some tough decisions on people or even stopping things to assess and recalibrate.
Learn and get better
Transformation is an opportunity to develop leaders. It runs out of steam when companies neglect leadership development. New knowledge and skills must be integrated into the culture—“the way we do things here”—of the organization and the rewards system must reflect the importance of such.