Business Leadership Skills – Change Management 101

Business Leadership Skills – Change Management 101

Organizations are often in continual change mode. Let’s face it…rapid change is the nature of business today. Managing change is one of the key business leadership skills executives must develop. Change is something not all employees are comfortable with, and because of this fact, it’s common practice for organizations to blame employees and middle management when a change fails. The prevailing thinking being that the employees need to ‘get with the plan’ and change with the company. That’s true enough. But what this demand doesn’t recognize is the impact the company leaders’ behavior can have on how the change is planned, received and implemented by their people.

Developing the business leadership skill of managing change is critical for all executives. The way a leader manages organizational change has a significant impact on whether it’s supported or resisted. The focus should be on what the leaders do – and what they fail to do.

Change can be effectively managed with leadership involvement. Take a look at a few tips based on what has worked for us and for our clients:

  • Be up-front. As soon as you know that change is coming, begin preparing the people. One of the best ways to overcome resistance to change is to inform people about the change effort in advance.
  • Communicate. Frequent, regular and transparent communication about the change builds trust, gives you the opportunity to explain what you want from your staff, and allows them to openly communicate their concerns, issues, fears or perceived challenges related to the change.
  • Be clear. When employees show resistance, speak openly and honestly about this. Times of major company transformation call for straight talk rather than “beating around the bush.” Communicate that you need everyone to embrace the change, and clearly outline the consequences of not doing so.
  • Force accountability. It’s important that you don’t take responsibility if people are not embracing the change. Be clear, care about their feelings and issues, but each person needs to be personally accountable for either stepping up or stepping out.

All executives need to develop the business leadership skill of creating an affirmative change management culture. By following the above tips, an astute leader can build a change management strategy that addresses issues before they become problems. In other words, avoid resistance by building trust first. Leaders can effectively manage change through involvement – it’s Change Management 101.