Delivering Business Change — Where Is Your Sense of Urgency?

Delivering Business Change — Where Is Your Sense of Urgency?

Delivering business change is difficult. It is vital for leaders to understand the human dynamics of change. That is, to create a sense of urgency.

Without a sense of urgency, business change endeavours are likely to fail or, at best, deliver lukewarm results. I know. I’ve seen it time after time.

A Sense of Urgency

Delivering business change is difficult. Your people make change happen. Only they can make change a reality. Accordingly, it is important that people know the reason for change, are fully engaged in the process, and have the opportunity to buy into the initiative.

Stretching it [change] over a long time period extends the discomfort. People will become impatient, confused and distracted. They will conclude that re-engineering is another bogus program and the effort will fall apart. – Michael Hammer and James Champy

Therefore, avoid false starts and haphazard efforts. These lead to anxiety and frustration and do nothing but delay the development of new attitudes and behaviours. What’s more, inertia is likely to set in and impede both current and future efforts.

When you listen to people you may hear them say: “What’s the point, it’s all going to change!”, “We will have to wait until the new structure is in place” or “I’m not leaving now, so I may as well hold out for a pay-off.”

So, after announcing change, get on with it, and create a sense of urgency!

Managing Change

The purpose of change is to move an organization from its present state to one that is more favourable in meeting strategic objectives. When managing change, you need to understand the gap between the starting point and the desired outcome.

The usual steps are:

  • Articulating the vision: Reminding everyone of the direction of the organization — “Where are we going?”
  • Developing the Strategy: Planning how this will be achieved by developing objectives and goals — “How are we going to get there?”
  • Monitoring progress: A cycle of encouraging change and observing progress — “How are we doing?”

Stages of Change

Leaders need to understand what must be done to move people on. The different stages of change—denial, resistance, exploration, commitmentall require different strategies. At the denial stage, you have to engage with all of your stakeholders to explain your vision and how you intend to carry out the strategy. Balance urgency with the need to allow enough time to explain this information and decide what action to take.

When you reach the resistance stage, accept it and respond with encouragement and influence. Focus on the big picture and the benefits change brings—take time to listen to what people have to say and gauge how they feel.

When people start to accept the inevitability of change—exploration—communicate your plan, set priorities and put in place training and other supporting frameworks.

By the time you reach the commitment stage, people will see that the change can work and will be moving forward. This is the time to concentrate on team building, setting objectives, and recognizing or rewarding team and individual contributions.

Change is the single most important element of successful business management today. To remain competitive in increasingly aggressive markets, organisations (and individuals in them) have to adopt a positive attitude to change! – Charles Handy

Change will always create significant organizational and individual challenges.

Inevitably, people will soon realize that their roles and responsibilities are going to change significantly, and that changes to their jobs may follow. Therefore, it is vital for leaders to understand the human dynamics of change and to act accordingly. That is, to create a sense of urgency.

A positive attitude, timely communication, good organization and the ability to inspire are all key attributes of an effective leader. What else is needed to implement successful change? You are welcome to share your experience in the comments.

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