Effective managers should have the skills and knowledge to be able to carry out a change management program. Being proficient at change management in and of itself, however, isn’t enough for one to be an effective manager overall. While there are certain requirements managers need to be effective, change management describes a body of knowledge around how to implement change. The two concepts are related, but being able to implement a change management process is merely one of many skills that an effective manager should have in their skill set.
Understanding That Change Will Have an Impact
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Whether as simple as installing a new phone system or as complicated as moving a business across the country, effective change management starts with managers recognizing that the change will have an impact of some magnitude that must be addressed. Change almost always requires transformation, and for managers, the process can be a challenging one. However, change isn’t always met with resistance. In “Systems Leadership: Creating Positive Organizations”, MacDonald, Burke and Stewart contend that in general, people are more willing to change if they are presented with a better way of doing things that will make their lives easier.
Recognizing Dissonance: Understanding the Need for Change
Change is necessary to make improvements and managers need to recognize not only when change is needed, but also, how it will be received. Recognizing dissonance, as described by MacDonald et al, and knowing how to work with it proactively is key. For example, if an employee uses a cell phone with substandard features and poor connectivity, chances are they will be dissatisfied. If and when the implementation of a new cell phone provider is announced, it is unlikely that this employee will resist change. On the other hand, if a different employee with the same phone problems has learned to cope and is content with the current phone for whatever reason, the change announcement may be met with dismay. The point is that a state of dissonance – or dissatisfaction with an existing situation – determines how employees will respond to change. Effective managers that know how to manage dissonance will be sure to introduce change in a way that will be met with low resistance, which will ensure a higher likelihood of the change initiative being accepted.
Having Clarity and Being Transparent
Introducing change effectively also requires clarity on the part of managers. Being clear on:
- Why the current situation is not appropriate,
- What the changes entail, and
- How the results will lead to a better situation both for the individual and the organization,
is a key aspect of effective change management that impacts success. Being open, transparent and available helps employees more fully understand the process and the role they play in making the transition as seamless as possible.
Effective management and change management are related concepts. It’s important for effective managers to understand what the drivers are behind change and know how to work with their teams to clearly describe the need for change, and how the transition can be made in the most efficient way possible.