Change management has turned into a mysterious autonomous discipline, valid regardless of contexts and situations. "Change" has inexplicably become a value. This conclusion leads to the following question: if we must always change, when do the effects of change change?
For example, was it an advantage in the 1990s to have moved from a functional structure to a "silo" structure? For some consulting multinationals, yes, but for companies in most of the world, no. The idea that the concept of globalization also includes that of cultural, historical, normative, organizational, psychological, etc., is in fact dead, but it is still cultivated and imposed by many. And I'm not saying it, the topic is now at the center of the world academic debate. But, changing keeps alive, especially some managers who, otherwise, wouldn't know what to do. A change management process can take years, securing jobs and salaries. So, a new wave of change will start shortly, to return to an updated version of the functional structure.
Ace the art of change management
However, there is something strange. How is it possible that the processes of change follow standard models, built on matrices that can only be modulated in words, but which are actually rigid and inflexible? If there is something that is against the logic of constant change, it is precisely the adoption of matrix models, as these are followed by the reorganization of the organizational charts, of the IT structures, of the various branches in the world, in short, all things that must be amortized over decades, not a couple of years. Therefore, the concept of current change is the antithesis of continuous change, in a world that is now inexorably liquid.
The theme is that the change must be realistic, it must be perfectly suited to the market in which the company operates and suitable for the staff who work there. The famous "resistance to change" is not a problem of employees, but of those who are planning the change and have no idea where this choice is falling. Imagining visionary projects, totally divorced from reality, means walking towards defeat. There is a real anxiety for change, which emotionally affects the leaders, who claim to convey this (unjustified) enthusiasm to their employees. We do not have the patience to make a rational path of the change management process and we use technology as an excuse to try to press people and elaborate a process that the structure cannot bear and support.
I would like to clarify one point, I am a firm believer in the idea that only a structural dynamism will make companies survive. I am, in some ways, even more radical than the prophets of change management at all costs, it is that "at all costs" that I fight.
The involvement of Senior Management is fundamental, and it is not a simple (and sometimes dangerous) emotional involvement, but a rational one. If executives are unable to understand the change itself and are reluctant to implement it, they run the real risk of being seen as disconnected and uncommitted. And if management isn't busy enough, how can people expect to withstand the "storm of change" without being reassured that the company will support them? We are experiencing the issue in recent months.
Leaders should reduce (eliminate?) unnecessary meeting rituals and “connect” with the human side of change and prove they are true leaders by playing “face-up” with their teams. Only in this way will they distinguish what is not working in the proposed change solution, from the usual complaints that are only children of the boring old "resistance to change".
A great leader does not say "the staff is always at the center of our project ...", but then uses poor information systems, which make the job impossible. It uses change to “explode” efficiency and productivity, through solutions that facilitate work and make it engaging and motivating. You can give happiness and get performance in return.
Then there is the whole issue of intermediate management that must transfer the operational contents of the change. Not only is adequate (in) training necessary, but also full involvement in the rationale behind the change management process. Let us remember that we are not talking about the "old" concept of change, but about what we like and that never ceases to be implemented. But, to achieve this, the staff must have the skills to feel autonomous and empowered.
It is no longer the time for changes in the "corporate philosophy" (business unit or functions?), Which once implemented require decades to reach full capacity, it is the time for adaptive, super dynamic and decentralized changes at all levels of responsibility. Change leaders must unleash the potential of all the people who work in the company, turning each of them into an opportunity interceptor.
About the author
Giuseppe Ando is a C-Level & Executive Coach - Associate Partner at the acclaimed Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching. With a career that presides at the crux of the Venn diagram of Passion, Skills, and Experience, Giuseppe’s reputation as top executive coach has spanned decades. Among his many accolades, he is also recognized for his unique ability to understand and inspire those he coaches to excel professionally and personally while also delivering their organization’s desired results.