What is Your Most Burning Question?

by Stephen Warrilow
(Bristol, UK)

What is your most burning question about the whole business of leading and managing change...?

Or, what is your most burning question about being on the receiving end of change...?

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Comments for What is Your Most Burning Question?

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status quo
by: Anonymous

Stepping into a leadership role I have encountered a group of workers (not a team), who have "freelanced" in their positions for about the last three years.

Two sales people control much of the market and continue to reap the rewards, while others feed on the leftovers and struggle to meet minimum quotas.

As leading performers for the organization, they continuously hold their sales performance hostage against any attempts to induce change, outside of wallpaper and nest feathering.

Ironically, those who do not benefit from the situation, pledge their support for the status quo, seemingly as a lesser of evils versus change.

One thing is for sure, if I can't develop this group into a team, my days are numbered.

If I push the envelope, sales are sure to drop as a protest and my head will roll.

The other option is to continue playing the chess game and trying to outsmart their strategy, but any change may come too late. - Loggerhead

What is your relationship with your boss(es) like?
by: Stephen Warrilow

What is your relationship with your boss(es) like?

Are you able to share with them the reality of the context into which they want to see change?

Ethical Leadership with Creative and Logical Thinking
by: Anonymous

Main points are as follows :

(1) Political business men must stop using their political powers in order to ensure success in life, as they use change opportunities only for their own interests and benefits.

(2) Without using logical thinking to implement any change the consequences will be failure plus more accumulated problems.

(3) Before any change (whether economic or social and international aspects) businessmen should search for high calibre TALENTED LEADERS and not artificial or dummy leaders who they think are the best leaders but actually are not.

(4) Businessmen should return to ETHICAL THINKING and BUSINESS ETHICS too .

(5) Using the Media should more organized and should also be used in honest ways.

(6) Changes will not be successful unless the Strategic Review process is conducted in an honest manner.

(7) There are several other points to discuss in this respect?

Psychological Change
by: Kumar

How do we bring about the positive psychological change in the older employees - specially the Department Heads - when we bring about a new change all together while implementing a new management system..?

Showing the Facts is Critical
by: Anonymous 2

There is no company wide, common metric for evaluating the company's performance which gives a common-sense view of performance and with which every managaer could identify.

Continued use of "clever" ways of showing the data only hides the reality from the staff and does not provide the push to change.

The change is too slow.

Change Starts On Top
by: Chris

I need to facilitate a department seminar where the department head likes to put communication on the agenda.

Our company has grown (and continues to grow) rapidly and is transforming from a small national company with a head office in the UK to an international company with offices all over europe.

Lots of "territorial battles" are being fought right from the top to the bottom of the company with the consequence of communication (and cooperation) "break down" in many places.

It is in acknowledgement of these break downs that the department head want to put it on the agenda . He likes to involve people and talk attitudes and behaviors in communication.

My burning question is now, how do you involve people in this kind of talk (which in itself is good) when the attitudes and behaviors of the top management are not (always) role model material?

I can see how a seminar like this could have an opposite (and detrimental) effect if it highlights how the top management "behaves badly". Any suggestions?

Why do we find it so difficult to get communications right?
by: Anonymous

In my experience of both managing change and being on the receiving end, the hardest balancing act is getting the communications right.

It rarely feels timely, or sufficient and frequently results in a 'those that know and those that don't' situation. Assuming of course that the stakeholder map and areas of interest analysis has been undertaken.

What are the 'golden rules' to communications and what have people found to be the most successful approach to keeping people on side?

How To Ensure Change Remains The Priority?
by: M.G.

If a group agrees on an action that needs to be taken as part of a change process (for example, they agree to make a modification to their software), how do you ensure the action gets high enough priority in their reality, and does not get constantly delayed due to more important things?

Courage To Change
by: Stephen Warrilow

A number of very good questions have been asked, and I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, but for what little it may be worth, my own view is that the answers may have something to do with a combination of the following:

(1) Sponsorship - any change initiative needs to be "owned" and sponsored by someone with leadership qualities, someone who has the personal and political clout to be listened to and taken notice of.

So to the person dealing with freelancers, I would suggest seeking sponsorship and support from whoever appointed you. Without that sponsorship and clout you can't succeed - and it is totally unrealistic for them to expect otherwise. If senior people are not sponsors and are poor examples - then is it possible to act as a "local sponsor" to your own team?

(2) Energy (Kotter is big on this in his 8 step model) the need to build a real momentum with 75% of senior people fully supporting it - he calls it a "coalition for change".

Building this energy for change and creating a coalition for change is a vital aspect of the change communication process. Change has a better chance of remaining a priority if there is this energy for it.

(3) Personalise and "emotionalise" the energy for change - in my view people need to know cognitively why the change is so important (vision, strategy, business case etc) but they also need to feel emotionally what the personal impact of the change (or lack of it) is - what it will mean to them personally. The more they feel it the more they will prioritise it - because it matters to them personally.

In my view, this is absolutely critical and it takes thought and skill to translate the broader change messages into highly targeted and personalised impacts.

(4) Effective two-way communication is also vital. The sponsor needs to ensure that all people impacted have their say - and if change is going to have a negative impact or involve a loss then to allow them to express their feelings and (to quote Bridges) acknowledge and support them thro the transition.

If any of these aspects is missing you cannot fully succeed with a change initiative. It may however be possible to achieve a "local success" by redefining what is possible and providing some form of "local sponsorship" your self - in the absence of top level sponsorship.

One final thought, frequently most of us are involved with messy situations where the principles and "rules" of good change leadership and management are not applied, so I feel that we are well advised to apply Reinhold Niebuhr's famous serenity prayer:

"...grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things that I can; and the wisdom to know the difference"

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