Managing Change

“Change is nothing new and a simple fact of life. Some people actively thrive on new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the status quo and strongly resist any change. It is all down to the personality of the individual and there is little management can do about resistance to change (Mullins 2010: 753).”

In today’s dynamic work environment there are multiple enablers and accelerators of change, whether it is technology advances, complex multi-national organisations, the impact of globalisation or a challenging economic situation, businesses are required to re-frame their view of “normal”.

We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing – R.D Laing

Leaders are challenged with a swelling rate of change and complexity and need to find ways to deal with it. Leading companies through change has become different from how it was a decade or two ago.

For businesses to flourish and lead they will need to break away from expecting the day-to-day operations to continuously fall into a static and predictable pattern that may include short periods of change. The new norm is continuous change, not the absence of change. Businesses that embrace this “new norm” will move from purely responding to trends, to shaping them and leading them.

While discussing role that managers play in avoiding and overcoming resistance to change and the value that resistance can bring to the change process in an organisation. There is no single solution to delivering successful change, but there are clear steps that businesses can take to reduce and eventually eliminate the change gap between the failures and the successes. Businesses can no longer afford an ad-hoc approach to change management.

Seven-basic-change-management-questions-to-consider         change-resistance-e1382561927897 (1)

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, “The best tool for leaders of change is to understand the predictable, universal sources of resistance in each situation and then strategize around them.”

Prior to making changes that will affect others, it’s important for managers to carefully think through:

1) What the specific changes include,

2) Who the changes will impact,

3) How it will impact them, and

4) How they might react (understanding reasons why people might resist the changes)..

Being aware of the reasons people resist change will help you implement change with fewer issues. Eliminate fear of the unknown by letting affected groups know there will be changes coming. Proactively involving others in the changes before they arise and asking them to offer input and feedback can avoid mistrust and the feeling of loss of control. By providing a clear vision and reason for the changes along with a timetable or schedule of what to expect and when to expect it will avert bad situation. Effecting change is never painless, but it can be a lot less painful for everyone when it is done with empathy and compassion after thorough analysis, planning, and strategising

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A solution which has become increasingly popular for dealing with resistance to change is to get the people involved to “participate” in making the change. But as a practical matter “participation” as a device is not a good way for managers to think about the problem. In fact, it may lead to trouble. The key to the problem is to understand the true nature of resistance. Actually, what employees resist is usually not technical change but social change—the change in their human relationships that generally accompanies technical change.

Resistance is usually produced because of certain blind spots and attitudes which staff specialists have as a result of their preoccupation with the technical aspects of new ideas. Managers can take concrete steps to deal constructively with these staff attitudes. The steps include emphasizing new standards of performance for staff specialists and encouraging them to think in different ways, as well as making use of the fact that signs of resistance can serve as a practical warning signal in directing and timing technological changes.

Drucker_on_Managing_Change

In an organization that has a culture of trust; transparent communication; involved, engaged employees; and positive interpersonal relationships, resistance to change is easy to see – and also much less likely to occur. Employees feel free to tell their boss what they think and to have open exchanges with managers.

Lets take an example of Prada:

Prada (CEO): At Prada we have no secrets. At many companies managers in charge of a particular function—whether design or merchandising—dislike it when people in their department talk to colleagues in other departments. They want to maintain control, and they often do so by hoarding knowledge and restricting communication. 

prada-logo (1)7-Prada

In fact, a culture that values transparency gives managers more control than one that values control. Transparency between functions enables Prada to respond to changing market tastes very quickly. They don’t design for the sake of designing; their creative energy is integrated with their commercial ambitions. Not unique in this respect, in 1970s Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Gucci, and Giorgio Armani were also good at blending the creative and the commercial. To a great extent they, like Prada, owe their integration skills to a partnership at the top. People working closely with Miuccia in design will talk often to people working closely with her on the commercial side. This enables them to be fast. Any department store will tell that Prada delivers clothing and accessories very quickly after a design has been presented on the runway. It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of this capability in the time-sensitive business of fashion.

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Further concluding , Change management in any industry implies the same basic process, but since change in Fashion can be particularly challenging, it is essential that a change management model is meticulously applied in order to identify risks and optimize success. As applied in case  “Remaking of JC Penny’s Organizational Culture”

zara scm

Naturally, managers must let people have control over what they do. Good designers should be the masters of their designs, or their ideas may be spoiled. Good managers shouldn’t be second-guessed, or no one will want to make decisions. But control must not become obstruction. A designer or a manager should be able to exercise it without limiting access to information.

References:

forbes.com ‘Overcome The 5 Main Reasons People Resist Change’ [Online] available from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/11/26/overcome-the-5-main-reasons-people-resist-change/[22 March 2014]

pdf.whitepaper ‘Managing Change in The Fashion Industry’ [Online] available from http://www.lectra.com/binaries/Change-Management_white-paper_en_tcm31-219635.pdf[22 March 2014]

hbr.org ‘Prada’s CEO on Staying Independent in a Consolidating Industry’ [Online] available from http://hbr.org/2012/09/pradas-ceo-on-staying-independent-in-a-consolidating-industry/ar/1[22 March 2014]

cmuscm.blogspot ‘Fashion Forward – Zara’s Supply Chain Strategies’ [Online] available from http://cmuscm.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/fashion-forward-zaras-supply-chain.html[23 March 2014]

torbenrick.eu ‘Mind the gap – closing the change management gap’ [Online] available from http://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/closing-the-change-management-gap/%5B23 March 2014]

torbenrick.eu ‘Infographic: Resistance to change in organisations’ [Online] available from http://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/infographic-resistance-to-change-in-organisations/%5B23 March 2014]

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11 thoughts on “Managing Change

  1. I liked the way you mentioned that Continuous Change is the new norm but don’t you think Changing those theories or strategies which have stood the test of time could prove to be a very dangerous move ?

    • Thanks for coming across with a notable concern. But if you note Himanshu, theories have been revisited and revamped with changing needs and patterns in given situations. And one has to look out of the box to bring about a change.

  2. Prada is a good example but there are some companies like Marks & Spencers which did not have any significant changes in their management style and strategies and still it has been able to flourish in the following years. So do you think change is always necessary? Please comment.

    • Prada is one such example Akshay, but in present business environment companies undergo changes almost constantly if they have to remain competitive. Need is to manage change in a way to minimize employee resistance while at the same time maximizing the worth of change effort.

    • I would to talk about organizational changes.
      In my 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry, I’ve seen 3 types of people.
      No:1 are the people, who accept changes for the betterment of the establishment. They are called positive thinkers.
      No: 2 are the people who never accept changes and influence others against the change. They are called negitive thinkers.
      No:3 are the people who are least bothered about what’s going on around them. They are neutral.

    • “Change is natural and good. Reaction to change is unpredictable, but manageable”.
      Its a fact that Managing change is really necessary in today’s globalization world.
      But changes are very sensitive till they are properly manage. It can be a lot less painful for everyone when it is done with empathy and compassion after thorough analysis, planning, and strategics.
      Airport industry is a good example of Managing Change.Today Delhi International Airport ,Mumbai International Airport ,Hyderabad and Bangalore are good exaple of managing change.which is done with lot of Analysis Planing and strategies.

      Changes should always be done with a focus of long term goals either its for an Organisation or for an individual.

  3. Change is constant and the only way to move on to the desired state is to understand and embrace change. Change doesn’t only defines the process of taking full advantage of the technology but it also includes on the attitude and the actions taken by the users and the subjects.

    Many will resist change. People don’t inherently like it. Overcoming resistance includes involving the right people on the front end. Get stakeholders involved in decision making, bring them in early and help them understand why it is important.

  4. Yes i accept with the fact that changes in management is really necessary in todays globalised world. But sometimes these changes in the management may lead to failures in companies management system. So it is at most important to keep the pace of change constant and to adapt to that changes effectively. But even in some of the well-known companies in the world employees are still not admired and why is wages so low in developing countries for the employees being the same company in european countries with high wages.

  5. Article seems to be good talking about the changes. I want to know that is changes is only solution ? If u go to see their are many companies which are in market which are successful following their own tradItional way.

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