Leadership & Organizational Change
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Leadership Challenges During Change
(Adapted from Managing Transitions by William Bridges)
- Emotional stress and guilt related to making decisions that have powerful consequences on employee's lives
- Implementing changes which were decided from above; that you may not agree with
- Being a focal point of employee anger, fear and mistrust as they go through the change process. Fear of violence or other acting out behavior.
- More personal and emotional problems brought to your desk; many you cannot solve
- Feeling responsible for a department's productivity and reputation as resources, staff and other support is reduced. Loss of self esteem if quality of departmental performance declines.
- Job insecurity
- Burning out by taking too much work on, long hours, not taking breaks or vacations, worrying about work at home, insomnia, unrealistic expectations, perfectionism
- Difficulty delegating tasks because everyone else is already overloaded with work
- Being misunderstood, misinterpreted, not listened to. Need to communicate more carefully and repeatedly.
- Increased need to address issues of staff morale, discipline, motivation, complaints and interpersonal conflicts, though there is less time available for resolving these problems
- Sense of loneliness and isolation, hard to find personal support within the organization
- Less support from above: management overwhelmed or unavailable
Launching a New Beginning
- Clarify and communicate the purpose behind the outcome you seek
- Paint a picture of how the outcome will look and feel
- Create a step-by-step plan
- Give each person a part to play in the plan AND the outcome
- Be consistent with the message
- Ensure quick successes
- Symbolize the new identity
- Celebrate the success
Managing People During Organizational Transitions
"The single biggest reason organizational changes fail is that no one thought about endings or planned to manage their impact on people."
- Identify who's losing what
- Accept the reality and importance of the subjective losses
- Don't be surprised at "overreaction"
- Acknowledge the losses openly and sympathetically
- Expect and accept the signs of grieving
- Compensate for the losses
- Give people information, and do it often
- Define what's over and what isn't
- Mark the endings
- Treat the past with respect
- Let people take a piece of the old way with them
- Show how endings ensure continuity of what really matters
- Do what you say you will. Don't make promises you can't or won't keep.
- Listen to people carefully and tell them what you think they are saying
- Understand what matters to people and work hard to protect whatever is related to that
- Share yourself honestly
- Ask for feedback and acknowledge unasked-for feedback on the subject or your own trustworthiness. It may be biased and you don't have to swallow it whole. But check it for important half-truths.
- Don't push others to trust you further than you trust them
- Don't confuse being trustworthy with "being a buddy." Being a buddy for a purpose is an untrustworthy act.
- Don't be surprised if your trust-building project is viewed a bit suspiciously. Such mistrust is a form of self-protection, and no one readily gives that up.
- If all of this is too complicated to remember just remind ourselves. "Tell the truth".
- Bolton, Robert. People Skills. Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1979.
- Borysenko, Joan. Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. Addison-Wesley, 1987.
- Bramson, R., Coping With Difficult People. Valentine Books, 1981.
- Bridges, William. Managing Transitions. Addison-Wesley, 1991.
- Burns, David. Feeling Good. The New Mood Therapy. Avon, 1992.
- Gardner, John. On Leadership. Free Press, 1990.
- Lakein, A., How to Get Control of Your Time and Life. David McKay, 1973.
- Sapolsky, R., Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. Freeman and Co. 1994.
- Seligman, M., Learned Optimism, Knopf, 1990.
- Woodward, H. and Bucholz, S., Aftershock: Helping People Through Corporate Change. Wiley, 1987.
- Miller, Emmett and Halpern, Steven. Letting Go of Stress. Source, P. O. Box W, Stanford, California (relaxation tape).