What are the roles of leadership in change management? At many levels, a change project entails a determined, continuous effort. Top management and the Board of Directors are just as vital to the process as the change agent, sponsors, steering committee, and general public. We will discuss the roles of leadership in change management. Keep reading.
Responsibilities in an organizational change process
The following are some of the main responsibilities in an organizational change process:
The Change Initiator: Organizations sometimes see the need for change only after suffering a significant loss. A drop in revenue, the departure of key personnel, a loss of market share, or the loss of a major customer to a rival are all examples of losses. When someone inside the company reacts to such circumstances and expresses the need for change, a change is often launched.
The Change Agent: The change agent is in charge of driving and executing change within the company. An external consultant or an internal consultant might be the change agent. In reality, various persons or teams may fill this position at different stages of the transition process. For example, if the responsibility of change management is delegated to an external consultant, he acts as the initial change agent.
When the project team begins working on the consultant’s suggestions, the team leaders take on the role of change agents. Essentially, change agents promote change by stressing the need for change and supporting the cause of change at various phases.
The Official Sponsor Team: Typically, the organization will choose a team or department to oversee the transformation process. The HR department or the IT department may be the sponsors in larger organizations. This function can be filled by a group of senior leaders in smaller organizations.
Finally, although change activities are carried out on the ground, they must be guided by top management. The importance of senior management in ensuring that the effort does not lose focus or become stranded due to operational or motivational challenges cannot be overstated.
Roles of leadership in change management
Change has the power to “make or break” a company. Change is never self-sufficient. Change is challenging at first, but it eventually settles down. The three basic facts of an organizational shift are as follows.
Although individuals eventually adjust to change after a period of denial, the transition period is challenging. This is where senior management may assist. Change is launched by someone who is emotionally impacted by a problem in the organization, and it is carried out by agents and sponsors, as we have seen.
1. Task delegation
Top management, however, is ultimately responsible for the success of the reform activities. Work is distributed to different levels of employee participation depending on the difficulties involved, depending on the structure of the organization. As a result, the Board of Directors may monitor the CEO, who in turn supervises the Executive Assistants, who assign work to middle management, who in turn delegate work to entry-level supervisors.
The role of top management in establishing the tone for change is crucial. It not only helps to communicate the vision and its associated goals, but it also helps to objectively establish targets and define outcomes in order to achieve the transformation. The behaviors of their superiors have the greatest impact on people. As a result, leaders must model the anticipated conduct that the shift necessitates in order to influence others to do the same.
2. Executive Management
Teams can use their authority positions or external connections to strengthen the change agenda, including pushing it through the media, but genuine progress can only be made in conjunction with employees.
It is critical for senior management to instill a feeling of shared responsibility. Genuinely appreciating workers and their involvement in the process is crucial to instilling this mentality. Nothing motivates you more than knowing that your efforts are recognized and valued by your employer.
3. Adopting a culture
Adopting a culture that cuts through the hierarchy and regards everyone as equal, prioritizing organizational aims over personal aspirations, and so on are all seen as symbolic gestures that indicate the need for change and the significance placed on it. As a result, senior management has a lot of power in terms of sending out the right signals to encourage change.
3. Credibility management
“Selling” a change to your employees involves “credibility management,” as I call it. And the Top Management Team has a vital role in this. Top management must not only explain the change vision, but also link it to business needs and demonstrate how the change will affect earnings, productivity, and work-life quality.
The capacity of management to genuinely address the existing gap between the current situation and the desired state, and offer to the people a compelling, rational, and well-planned strategy – a blueprint for success – is also critical.
4. Rapid deployment
Following that, ensuring rapid deployment is critical. After individuals have been convinced of the approach, senior management must immediately put it into action. The sooner you put your tactics into action, the more likely they are to succeed. It’s similar to a “buzzer-round-quiz-game,” in which the faster you press the buzzer, the better your odds of winning are.
On the other side, even if you have the perfect answer, it won’t help you if you don’t push the buzzer on time! Even if you have a solid approach, taking action quickly becomes the keyword. With each achievement, you get closer to your goal and gain more reputation, so people will ultimately volunteer to follow you.
5. Deal with resistance
Another interesting finding is that resistance to organizational change is directly proportional to the perceived threat of change. Change disrupts the status quo and forces people to step outside of their comfort zones. It entails letting go of the “how things are done” in favor of a new set of potentially better circumstances. Regardless of the possible benefits of change, it is usually repulsive at first.
It’s accompanied by thoughts of a job loss, a shift in position, a shift in reporting, and so on until they are so plagued by anxiety and doubt that they have little time to think about it constructively. Top management must reduce perceived hazards from a change in order to maximize the advantages of change. Many of the anxieties may be unfounded, thus addressing them at the highest level means truly putting unfounded fears to rest, so avoiding costly losses due to stress and mental discomfort.
So far, we’ve discussed top management’s role in vision sharing, collective responsibility development, managing credibility, eradicating pointless apprehensions, goal-setting, target-setting, and leading by example, but there’s still something we haven’t discussed. Pay attention, because this is crucial.
Consider this: How quickly did you discard the final four lines of the previous paragraph, expecting to learn a valuable management tip in the next?
6. Listen and communicate
Aside from setting expectations, the most important thing for senior management to realize about conveying change is that listening is critical. Just as most of us would miss the meaning of those four words, expecting anything more, management frequently ignores employee concerns, preferring to advocate rather than listen. Employee complaints can often raise important issues that should be addressed in your change management strategy.
Teams must ensure that communication with the organization takes place in engaging sessions rather than one-way monologues. Do not hurry to describe how significant the change would be or to provide instances of how individuals have weathered previous shifts and were expected to do so again. Rather, accept that change is difficult and that every complaint deserves to be addressed. Maintain a tight grip on the agenda while remaining sympathetic to the concerns.
The key to good communication after that is careful listening, since only by hearing can you answer effectively. Only by responding correctly can you effectively address your people’s worries, and only by doing so can you reduce perceived dangers from change while maximizing constructive change efforts. So, in dealing with change, take time to listen and attention to the specific, special demands or difficulties of your staff.
7. Strategy to convey change
Top Management should use the “thesis-antithesis-synthesis” strategy to convey change instead of proposing that a specific “new system of working” is superior to the “old system of functioning.” “Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis” is a theory popularly associated with G.W.F. Hegel, a 19th-century German theorist who claimed that historical change is the result of opposing opposites clashing. Simply, a thesis is a declaration.
The antithesis is the rebuttal. The thesis and the antithesis are obviously conflicting or diametrically opposite. The synthesis refers to overcoming this conflict by proposing a solution at a higher level, including the beneficial aspects of both the thesis and the antithesis. The synthesis then creates a new thesis, which encounters an antithesis throughout time and is resolved at a higher level by another synthesis. Hegel’s dialectic on historical progression is frequently explained using this theory.
8. Team management
While the change in general necessitates identifying the many business units involved and allocating tasks to them, top management must map out a macro strategy through capable team leaders.
Top management must map a critical path of all tasks, where they have a clear picture of which task has to be completed by when, which task follows which, and how different task areas are tied to each other, after identifying the tasks involved in achieving change and the time frame available to complete those tasks. This aids in the synchronization of work efforts, which is essential for achieving the desired transformation.
The team leaders can then take on the role of leading their individual teams to achieve the established goals within the time frame allotted to effect change.
9. Make the process interesting
Various studies have demonstrated that working through the current culture rather than trying to alter it all at once is a superior method for top management. This may be accomplished by establishing a shared vision and gaining the support of lower-level management. Creating interest in them and the staff they oversee means attracting valuable resources to your project.
10. Reward and punish
Because this is where the true job of putting your goals into action takes place. The project may take up a significant pace if they are committed to their responsibilities in accomplishing Change. While the management takes an employee-centered approach, it must also guarantee that individuals who are not devoted to their jobs are mentored or fired.
Many companies, such as Navistar International Corporation, that have excelled at change have done so by having their top management study the organizational context, company history, and standard operating procedures, and then forming improvement teams to drive change wherever it is required, according to research. As a consequence, our findings amply demonstrate the necessity of Top Management Teams in managing organizational transformation.
HOW CAN CEOS ACHIEVE SUCCESSFUL CHANGE MANAGEMENT?
Researchers at the American Productivity and Quality Centre found that while change is usually always faced with opposition, a champion is needed to push change throughout the organization. In addition, the more powerful and prominent the advocate, the more likely the transformation effort will succeed. In this regard, the study found that the organization’s leader, most commonly the CEO, is the most effective communicator of the vision and the need for change throughout the organization.
In fact, most of the best practice organizations discovered that the CEO of the company initiated, planned, and supervised transformation efforts. It is frequently insufficient for the CEO to just explain the vision to the staff. The CEO must also play a key role in the planning and implementation of the transformation process in order to ensure that the vision is realized. The CEO’s direct engagement in the initiative emphasizes its importance, guaranteeing broad organizational support and dedication.
The CEO’s viewpoint Change is frequently seen as an objectively measured product. It might be an increase in revenue, the creation of a new business unit, or the reengineering of processes. However, some CEOs may overlook the changeover period. The perception may be that the change attempt was ineffective or worse, not achieved until the outcome becomes visible and operational. The transition phase, which occurs before the period in which change outcomes are evident, is not just the most difficult, but also the one in which the most change effort is necessary.
This is a period when individuals are adjusting to their new circumstances, taking on new tasks, and sometimes operating both old and new systems at the same time. While there may be little apparent output during this period, it is at this time that the most change occurs. Rather of worrying about the visible result, the CEO should sympathize with his staff throughout this time. The only stumbling block they may have is that there are no time constraints on how long a transition period may extend until the change takes hold and becomes noticeable.
Another challenge for the CEO is dealing successfully with high-pressure circumstances, such as when the Board of Directors wants to know how the change has affected the return on investment too fast. This ignores the fact that change is never instantaneous and might eventually lead to regression.
A third, less obvious difficulty is that the CEO frequently has a shorter transition period than middle management, and so is not as “attached” to the middle management as he may believe. The rationale for this is that for him, change is typically symbolized by achieving a strategic goal, but for middle management, the actual change impact occurs after the goal has been met and a new set of circumstances has been formed.
Because it is middle management that must deal with this shift on a daily basis, gradually regularizing it to make it a systemic change. That will take time. As a result, the changeover period will be lengthier. In a transition scenario, the mismatch between the CEO and middle management might be a difficulty for the CEO.
What are the implications for organizational change?
Let us use the existing circumstances as our thesis in this case. As a result, the new system or ideal scenario is the polar opposite. Now, if you try to insist that the new system is superior to the old for a, b, c, d, or e reasons, you are posing a challenge that will very certainly be met with resistance. Nobody likes to believe that they are part of a phony system that is no longer functional. Instead, strive to find a “synthesis” between your current position and your ideal condition.
Communicate the benefits of the existing system as well as the benefits of the ideal system. Suggestion: The adjustment will result in a synthesis between the two for improved performance. In this manner, you may encourage change without undermining present working practices. This has a favorable psychological effect on how individuals react to the concept of change.
Moving forward, senior management must ensure that work procedures, performance systems, training programs, job descriptions, and other elements that make up or support the framework in which workers operate are all aligned with the change goal and complement one another.
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