Managers and the Process of Change
The desperate call-to-arms, "Change or Die"— which can be heard echoing down the corridors of businesses everywhere — is evidence that leaders have recognised the need to change. Managers know that companies must be fast, flexible, responsive, resilient, and creative to survive. Most also know that current mind-sets, techniques, and tools are ineffective for creating such an organisation. These people are displaying the talents required to successfully negotiate change. They are aware of the limitations around or within themselves and are willing to learn the necessary skills required to succeed as change managers.
Change is the process of moving from one state to another. Just as moving house requires the massive packing of furniture and other items, change requires just as much preparations to be successful.
Most people do not like change, they like things to remain the same. Changes require more effort to adapt. It threatens stability and security and people fear that they will not be able to cope. Resistance is the natural defence to such perceived threats.
A good manager has to be able to work with and overcome resistance he/she must be able to control the whole process of change. With this in mind, I have considered the role of the manager, what his/her function is and what skills are required to enable him/her to be a successful change manager.
Function of Managers
Fayol (1908) identified the functions of the manager as:
1. Setting objectives
4. Control or measurement
These functions are as true today as they were then, but I consider communication as the key to them. It is the essential function in successful change management. Drucker (1977 in Stewart 1986) also makes the important addition of, ‘the development of people.’
Each of the functions can be seen as essential to managing emergent or planned change, however it is the balance of skills and knowledge combined that produce a successful change manager.
With these points in mind we then consider organisations and their nature.
Organisations – their nature and culture.
Organisations are living social organisms, each with its own culture, character, nature, and identity. Every organisation has its own history of success, which reinforces and strengthens the organisation’s way of doing things. The older and more successful the organisation, the stronger its culture, its nature, its identity becomes.
They are "communities of people with a mission" (Putman, 1990 in Buchanan and Huczinsky, 1991), not machines. The basic nature of a living social organism is naturally more fundamental, deeper in the hierarchy, and therefore much more powerful than business work processes, financial systems, business strategy, vision, supply chains, information technology, lean manufacturing, marketing plans, team behaviour, corporate governance.
All of these phenomena are important. But they are less fundamentally...