Short and Effective Ways to Manage Change (Transition)

by Budd Babb, PH.D

Budd's relaxed yet focused management consulting style is a natural fit to a wide-variety of complex organizations committed to continuous improvement throughout the state of Maryland. He works best with proactive organizational leaders that are truly committed to ensuring that employees are seen as their organization's "most important asset." His extensive skills and knowledge have been sharpened over the past 25 years by serving clients in a wide-variety of successful organizations throughout the United States, Canada, the Arctic, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Japan. He has a deep understanding of organizational behavior and systems, change management and work process redesign. He helps his client organizations achieve success by making sure that everyone can and is expected to bring their "Heads and Hearts" to work every day. He is a relationship builder who easily supports his clients' ongoing successes in manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, higher education and social service organizations. He is especially talented in helping his clients develop truly operational strategic plans, provide practical solutions to difficult problems, build effective internal leadership and team skills, and design work processes that improve quality, productivity, reduce delivery times and enhance customer loyalty.

Simply put, Change is the "what" that is intended to become different. Transition is the "how" things will become different. The essence of successful change management is largely a reflection of how the transition process is facilitated.

Implementing significant organizational change (transition) is a primary responsibility of management. The form and structure of an organization; the processes used; products and services provided; and people hired, trained and assigned to jobs are the strategic responsibilities of those in management. The day-to-day responsibilities of what must be done to achieve success rests with the majority of an organization's workforce. The differences between management and employee roles needs to be clearly understood when judging organizational performance.

Implementing significant organizational change (transition) is a primary responsibility of management. The form and structure of an organization; the processes used; products and services provided; and people hired, trained and assigned to jobs are the strategic responsibilities of those in management. The day-to-day responsibilities of what must be done to achieve success rests with the majority of an organization's workforce. The differences between management and employee roles needs to be clearly understood when judging organizational performance.

Poor performance cannot simply be blamed on workers who often do not control the methods and processes, resources provided and the goals set by managers. With that reality in mind, any discussion of change (transition) must take into account the realities of role differences between managers and non-managers. Additionally, managers, team leaders and other facilitators need to take into account and manage in ways that limit the realities of transition.

The Transition Process

From
Current State >>> to >>> Transition State >>> to >>> Future State

Old Roles >>>>>>>>>>> Confusion >>>>>>>>>>>>> New Roles
Comfort >>>>>>>>>>>> Discomfort >>>>>>>>>>>>> Comfort
Familiar >>>>>>>>>>>> Unfamiliar >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Known
Old Methods >>>>>>>> Experimentation >>>>>>>>> Reliable Methods
Stability >>>>>>>>>>>> Ambiguity >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Stability

Effective change management is really about transition management aimed at bringing about successful implementation of new methods, products, policies, services, facilities or other new realities. It means managing in ways that maximize opportunities for successful change and limit the effect of negative dynamics of transition such as listed below.

Negative Dynamics of Transition

  1. High perceived uncertainty and low stability. "We can't count on anything anymore."
  2. High levels of Perceived inconsistency. "They keep changing the game plan."
  3. High emotional stress on affected individuals. "There is more stress than before."
  4. High energy, often without direction. "Ready, fire, aim."
  5. Control becomes an issue. "Who's in charge here?"
  6. Increased conflict. "You're wrong and I won't do that."
  7. Past patterns of behavior become explicitly valued. "Why can't we do it the way we always have?"

Given the realities of how people often respond to change and transition, organizational leaders are best advised to manage themselves in ways that take into account old mindsets, beliefs, values and beliefs of people impacted by necessary changes.

Considerations During Transition to Desired Changes

  • People accept change that makes sense to them.
  • People are capable of making significant change in their lives at any time.
  • People's reactions are largely shaped by how transition is handled.
  • People need to feel secure about their jobs, families and themselves.
  • People handle change best when they are in control of what they do and are able to make decisions about how they do it.

Positive Change-Transition Management Occurs When:

  1. There is a shared VISION of an exciting future.
  2. People know what to expect (a TRANSITION PLAN).
  3. People have KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS needed.
  4. People see MODELS of how others have coped.
  5. People are REWARDED for new behaviors.
  6. Transition is framed as an ADVENTURE and EXPERIMENTAL.
  7. Reasonable TIME is allowed for the transition.
  8. People are SUPPORTED when things are difficult.
  9. People PARTICIPATE in decisions affecting them.
  10. After all others ways are tried, people HAVE TO!

The Challenge
"We must learn to enlist people's HEADS (intelligence) and their HEARTS (caring) as integral parts of the work process, and not just their hands to be extensions of engineering technology." author, J. Edwards Deming