Organizational Change: 6 Things You
Must Do To Be An Effective Leader In The Midst Of Change
by Dr. Alan Zimmerman
All progress is the result of
change. But not all change is progress. Some changes don’t make any
sense. In fact, some leadership behaviors actually create more stress
for yourself and your coworkers.
on my 22 years of consulting and speaking to organizations around the
world, I’ve found six things you must do to become an effective leader
in the midst of change.
Don’t beat yourself up.
did not cause the tough, changing times in your industry, and you could
not have predicted all the changes coming down the pike. The nature of
change is unpredictable.
example, who could have predicted the change in fashion? Do you remember
when clothing tags were worn on the inside? Now if you go to the malls,
you will see many teenagers wearing them on the outside.
could have predicted the change in lifestyle behaviors between
generations? Do you remember when safe sex meant your parents did not
find out? Now some parents "equip" their kids for sex.
who could have predicted the change in the marketplace? The great movie
mogul, Harry Warner, couldn't in 1922, when he said, "Who the ---- wants
to hear actors talk?"
founder of IBM, Tom Watson, Senior, couldn't in 1943 when he said, "I
think there is a world market for about five computers."
Olsen, the President of Digital Equipment Corporation couldn't in 1973
when he said, "There is no reason for anyone to have a computer in his
don't beat yourself up for not being able to predict or prevent tough
changing times. This will deflate you, and you need to be out there
motivating your colleagues.
Keep your coworkers’ hope alive.
leaders project an optimistic view of the future, even during times of
change. Your colleagues need to know that you believe a better day is
coming. However, you also need to provide a realistic assessment of the
obstacles that your organization must overcome in order to reach that
Keep your employees fully informed.
You must keep
your employees fully informed. In downsizing environments, the levels of
uncertainty run high amongst employees. You must reduce their confusion,
even if that means sharing some bad news. As I tell my clients,
newsletter readers, and members in my speaking audience, the certainty
of misery is better than the misery of uncertainty.
employees have the right to know what's happening, why it's happening,
and what the next steps will be. By not sharing information immediately,
you’re allowing the rumor mill to churn out any number of ridiculous
stories that do nothing but increase stress and decrease motivation
levels in the workplace.
Tell the truth.
If you try to
relieve your employees' misery by saying things will calm down after the
reorganization, you may be heading for trouble if that’s not the truth.
Plus, the next time your organization announces a change your employees'
trust will take a nosedive. Employees need to be taught how to handle
changes, not be told it will soon be over.
5. Continue to reassure your employees with your presence.
Bev Smallwood recently completed a best practices study on those
companies dedicated to retaining their best employees. She discovered
that sixty to seventy percent of employee retention is directly linked
to management behavior.
particular, managers that spend time with their employees and build
relationships tend to keep their employees longer. If you want to retain
your best employees during times of change, you must be visible. In
uncertain times, seeing and hearing the leader is important. Too often
managers or leaders only meet with other senior executives, or they
disappear behind closed doors. Employees need to see and hear their
bosses. So become accessible and make yourself available for questions.
Cut and simplify the work.
you're organization has downsized, you probably cut only the workforce,
and not the workload.
There's a time when "doing more with less" makes a lot of sense, but
there's also a time when it's just plain ridiculous. There comes a point
when "doing more with less" is not only impossible, it's absolutely
demoralizing to keep saying it.
what can you do?
can't pretend things are the same. You can, however, reorder priorities
on a task-by-task basis. You can cut extraneous tasks, forms, and
procedures. You can encourage your associates to take shortcuts in
non-critical, routine areas to make time for more important items.
can also allow your associates to collaborate and figure out how the
extra work will be handled. In fact, the sense of teamwork that comes
out of collaboration can be a great motivator.
That's what Ameritech did. Executives from corporate headquarter
traveled from office to office, from department to department, in one
city after another. They queried fieldworkers on the types of reports
that are necessary to complete their day-to-day activities. By listening
to their fieldworkers, they were able to cut out 6,000,000 pages of
reports that no one needed and no one read.
one likes to go through change, and no one likes all the sacrifices
required by change. However, you can relieve the misery of uncertainty
if you follow the six things you must do to become an effective leader
in the midst of change outlined today.
over 20 years, best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional
Dr. Alan Zimmerman has helped more than a million people just like you
transform their power to lead and communicate.