At the highest level, business leaders are driven by financial goals and government leaders are driven by legislative mandates. Their urgent need to meet these objectives may lead them to impose change unilaterally, rather than engaging the people to find the best way to meet a more generally understandable desired future state.
Executives who neglect the human transition required in change management will be less successful at implementing change. Successful change management boils down to improving the relationships between people in the organization in the attainment of a mutually desirable end state. An organization that is too focused on objectives runs the risk of losing sight of personal relationships.
For a change initiative to be successful, an organization must understand and address the three phases of the Change Management Life Cycle—Identify, Engage and Implement.
Organizational leaders must ask themselves these questions:
- Has the organization thoroughly identified and communicated the impending change?
- Are disturbances acknowledged and aligned?
- Has the organization engaged all of its stakeholders—at every level of the organization—in the change that will need to be adopted?
- Is the intent and direction of this change aligned throughout the organization?
- Has the organization developed a flexible plan for implementation that allows for prototyping to move continually toward the desired future state?
- Are the organizational responses aligned and institutionalized?
The human transition that is required to move from a historically acceptable way of working to one that is completely new or radically different is not to be underestimated. Good leaders will make the reasons for change personal for everyone, not just for executives or shareholders. End-user benefits, down to the day-to-day experience of the individual worker, will create a more receptive environment for fostering new ideas—and a receptive environment is essential to creating any lasting, positive change.
If an organization can answer “yes” to each of the questions above, chances are good that its change initiative will be a success.
Reprinted with permission by ESI International
Jonathan B. Gilbert has more than 30 years of experience as entrepreneur, educator, chief executive officer, construction manager, management consultant, project manager and engineer. In 1975, he began his career as a project engineer and construction manager, designing, building and operating environmental treatment facilities. This experience enabled him to teach value engineering and project management to engineering and construction professionals throughout the United States.
Mr. Gilbert has worked for management consulting firms such as Fails Management Institute, Scott, Madden and Associates and INNOVA Group. In 1997, Mr. Gilbert founded Jonathan Gilbert & Associates, where he provided advice and counsel to clients in the areas of strategy, organization development, executive coaching and project management. Currently, Mr. Gilbert is Director of Client Solutions for ESI International.
Mr. Gilbert earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park, concentrating in project/construction management and environmental engineering. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute (PMI®).