Organizational Development and Change
Book Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach
3rd ed., 2016
Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford, & David Buchanan
Reflections for the Practicing Change Manager
1. How would you describe your role as a change manager using the terms introduced in this chapter: champion, soul-of-fire, quiet leader, positive deviant, disruptive innovator? How is this reflected in your behavior? Would you become more or less effective as a change man-ager if you “dropped below the radar”?
2. How effectively do you use your informal net-works to drive change in your organization? How could you develop and make better use of those networks?
3. Do you feel that you have the resilience required to operate effectively as a change manager? If necessary, what steps can you take to maintain and to strengthen your resilience?
4. As a practicing manager, you probably already have most of the required capabilities of the change manager. But how do you feel about using intimidation to motivate others to change? Are there circumstances when this would be appropriate in your organization?
5. Are you politically skilled? Do you use political skills to advance your change agenda? Who are the other “politicians” in your organization? Are you able to manage their support, and to block their attempts to interfere with your change agenda?
LO 12.1 Here is a short summary of the key points that we would like you to take from this chapter, in relation to each of the learning outcomes: Recognize the nature and significance of the contributions of change managers at all levels of an organization, regardless of their formal roles or responsibilities. Change managers can be found at all levels of an organization. Given the pace and scale of change in most organizations, the shared leadership of change has become a necessity. Contrary to the popular stereotype, middle managers are often among the most important change managers in an organization. The power and influence of many change managers come not from a formal, senior position, but from their position in the informal networks in an organization. Those with more informal connections can be more influential, and the organization chart is not a good guide to identifying them. The terminology that commentators have used to describe this variety of change manager offers insights into the nature of the role, and of those who take on these responsibil-ities: champions, evangelists, positive deviants, souls-of-fire, tempered radicals, quiet leaders, stealth innovators, ideas practitioners, disruptive innovators. Those innovators and “souls-of-fire” are highly motivated and assertive, but they are also nonconformists and do not follow instructions, and they can thus be difficult to manage
LO 12.2 Appreciate the challenges and rewards that accompany a change management role. The role of the change manager is often a demanding one: challenging, lonely, stress-ful, fast-paced, and risky. Dealing simultaneously with senior management expecta-tions and different modes of resistance from those who are going to be affected can make the role particularly pressured. However, the opportunities for personal develop-ment and career progression can be significant, and the role is especially satisfying and rewarding when the change process is successful. Given the pressures, a high degree of resilience is often required. Resilience can be developed, and exercise 12.2 offers a personal diagnostic.
LO 12.3 Copyright Identify the competencies in terms of the skills, knowledge, and other attributes that are ideally required in order to be an effective change manager. We considered three competency frameworks. The most comprehensive of these was developed by the Change Management Institute. Their model identifies over 50 capa-bilities under 12 skills headings: facilitation, strategic change, judgement, influencing, coaching, project management, interpersonal and corporate communications, self-man-agement, facilitation, professional development, learning and development. While this appears to be a daunting specification, most of those capabilities are relevant to most general management positions. We also discussed the value of “intimidation” as a change management style. While many managers may feel uncomfortable with this approach, it can be appropriate in certain circumstances, particularly when an organi-zation has become rigid, apathetic, stagnant, and change-resistant. We also discussed a small number of intimidation tactics: confrontation, the “calculated loss of temper,” maintaining an air of mystery, and “informational intimidation,” which involves the appearance of having mastered the facts.
LO 12.4 Understand the significance of political skill to the role and effectiveness of change managers. Organizations are political systems, and change is a politicized process. Politics is often seen in negative terms, as damaging and unnecessary. However, effective lead-ers and change managers need political skill in order to exert influence over others. Change managers must be aware of the perceptions and agendas of other stakeholders, and be able to engage them in consultation where their views are valuable, and also when necessary to counter attempts to subvert or resist change with political tactics. We identified several types of political tactics: image building, information games, structure games, scapegoating, alliances, networks, compromise, rule games, position-ing, issue-selling, and “dirty tricks.” One model of political skill identifies four key dimensions: social astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability, and apparent sincerity. We offered a self-assessment covering those four skill dimensions, and sug-gested ways in which political skill can be developed
LO 12. Develop an action plan for improving your own change management capabilities. We set out a six-step approach to personal development. First, do you still want this job, knowing how challenging and stressful it is, and what kinds of attributes contribute to success? Second, do you need to consider your personal positioning with regard to the depth of the change initiatives for which you are responsible, or with which you are associated? Deeper changes can be more risky, but they offer greater opportunities for personal development. Third, make sure that you are comfortable with the political dimension of the role, and follow the guidelines for developing political skill—if you feel this is relevant with regard to your current and future change management roles. Fourth, identify your strengths as a change manager, and determine how to maintain those capabilities. Fifth, identify gaps in your capability profile, and decide whether or not it is possible and desirable to address those—or to delegate those aspects of your change management role to other team members. Finally, develop a practical action plan to build on your strengths, recognize and manage allowable weaknesses, and address the gaps in your profile with further development.
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