Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Change Management 3: The Change Facilitator Leader

Organizational Change Management
“There are three types of people in this world, those who can count and those who cannot.”
If you’re in management long enough, you will eventually experience a significant change in your company. This is usually followed by an intense and often quite justified sense of betrayal by those most affected.
You may overhear the employees bemoan, “I can’t believe they’re doing this to us!” This is the time the leader has to become more than just the one giving orders. If this is your situation, you have to become a CFL (Change Facilitator Leader). Just having this attitude alone will give you a leg up on the other managers.
Naturally, you will want to pay special attention to the groups most affected by the change. Though that may seem obvious, it’s amazing how little it is done. Attention can be in the form of focus groups, brainstorming, or process sessions. Depending on the nature of the change, this could take several meetings. Do not underestimate the importance of these meetings, for several reasons: First, it allows the individual members of the group to feel less isolated. Second, you’ll be able to clarify exactly what the change is, who will be affected, and how the change will affect them, thus removing the negative influences of the rumor mill (which, as you probably know, will have filled in the details that you have not yet addressed). Finally, and most importantly, it will allow you to assess the individuals of your group in terms of Fast Movers, Slow Movers and No Movers. As the names suggest, the Fast Movers are already starting to come around, strategize, plan, and act. The Slow Movers are beginning to mobilize, or at least have come up with good questions and legitimate concerns to discuss. The No Movers are-well, not moving.
Step one: Forget about the Slow Movers and No Movers, at least initially. Your biggest priority is to focus on the Fast Movers. Get them on board ASAP by including them in the change process at all levels. Include them in meetings, delegate leadership roles to them, give them as much responsibility as they can handle, and have them report to you individually (or better, in teams) as much as is reasonable.
Step two: Now start converting the Slow Movers, either individually or in groups, playing subordinate roles to the key Fast Movers. This slow, methodical conversion is crucially important. In both physical systems (phase transitions) and social systems (tipping points), once a critical mass is reached, the whole system converts. For example, in physical systems, when one percent of normal disorderly light waves become orderly, this one percent converts the whole light system into a laser beam. This is you want from your group, isn’t it? A conversion from disorder to laser-like orderliness.
The quicker you get the Fast Movers off the dime, the sooner the whole process will become positively directed. Don’t make the rookie mistake of spending all your time dealing with the No Movers. That’s like explaining to the caboose where the train should go. Go directly to the engine, the Fast Movers. You will have facilitated and structured the change instead of ordering it; thus, you will gain more buy-in from everyone affected. The No Movers will eventually realize that, as they say in Texas, “It’s easier to ride a horse if you’re facing the direction the horse is moving in.”


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