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Entrepreneurship Success – Change Management (III)

In this series, we have so far covered the case for change management, what change management is and its benefits as well as the types…

In this series, we have so far covered the case for change management, what change management is and its benefits as well as the types of change, causes of change and change models. We will conclude the series today by taking up challenges to and the process of managing change.

Challenges to change: Change, regardless of the likely benefits accruable from it, tend to be resisted by different individuals and interest groups for different reasons. To facilitate surmounting the obstacles that might be thrown into the change process, which may scuttle the achievement of the legitimate goals of the change, it is important to understand what are the likely causes of the challenges and those who may throw them in, wittingly or unknowingly. Based on these, you can then develop how to go about overcoming the challenges. Some of the challenges to change and their sources may be:

* Employee resistance: Employees of various levels might resist change for different reasons. Some may detest the likely extra work that might be a fallout whilst some others might fear losing their power and influence. Resistance could be passive, as through lack of support by senior management. It could also be active through the lack of buy-in by junior operatives. To help address employee resistance, you will need to understand what the likely individual and collective motivations for resistance might be.

* Resistance of other stakeholders: Beyond the employees, other stakeholders could also pose different resistance to change. The specific stakeholder(s) and resistance will depend on your organisation, the change to be carried out, and your leadership skills.

* Poor communication: Regardless of how well-intentioned and beneficial change might be, poor communication might make its understanding difficult by those who are to support and carry out the change. To surmount this challenge, you will need to understand the principles and best practices of effective communication.

* Lack of consensus: Sometimes, the change is desired and accepted by all stakeholders. However, the specific directions and actions to be pursued in implementing the change might not be agreed to by all parties due to multiple and conflicting viewpoints. There is nothing wrong with disagreements on their own as they may help get out the best of possible options. But navigating the field will require openness, sincerity, knowledge, and wisdom on the part of the entrepreneur.

* Scheduling and resource constraints: Scheduling can cause implementation challenges if insufficient or too extended timeframes are set. Similarly, a dearth of required resources can drag out and even frustrate an otherwise well-planned change program. The entrepreneur should strike a balance between being ambitious and real in setting timeframes. In addition, requisite resources should be provided or reliable plans to have them when required are to be put in place.

Managing Change: Traditional change models can be adapted, adopted, or entirely developed to meet your change management requirements and realities. Thus, I suggest that a change process be carried out through three linked, but discernible stages. The three stages are ‘pre-change’, ‘implementation’ and ‘post-implementation’. In ‘Pre-Change’ or ‘pre-implementation’, the focus is to train your people to not just be comfortable but embrace positive change. In the ‘Implementation’ stage, you define your goals, establish time frames, identify, and provide resources etc. The ‘Post-implementation’ is about reviews for the purposes of the organisational learning and internalisation. The schematic below depicts the activities at each stage.

* Pre-implementation: This is the stage during which there is not any specific change implementation activity, at least not any major change that could be transformational. This is when you should educate your people to understand what change is, its benefits and what it may entail. It is the stage at which your people are encouraged to look out for and come up with change ideas. The pre-implementation stage should be a period to ‘peacefully’ draw up requisite policies that will help you carry out any upcoming change.

The pre-implementation stage is the period during which you should establish your shared values as well as strategy, structure, and style of change. Simply put, this is the stage at which you build broad change systems and process as well as develop a culture that gets your people ready and excited for change.

* Implementation: The implementation stage starts from the moment a specific idea is accepted for implementation. Your standing strategy, structure and processes as developed in the pre-implementation stage should be fine-tuned to the specific demands of the exact change to be carried out. Within this context, you will need to define what the long-term goals and short-term objectives of the change will be; Establish what timeframes and areas/persons of responsibility will be; Identify and provide required resources; Document and communicate the change program and activities; Give the go-ahead; Monitor, review and make corrections.

* Post-implementation: For all one-off discrete change programs, this is the stage after the full and complete implementation of the required change. Hence, it will involve a post-change review that will aim at documenting and communicating the achievements and any failures of the completed change program. Its purpose is to entrench and internalise a hunger and bias for organisational learning. For long-drawn implementation process, this stage can be considered as an extended tail-end of the implementation stage discussed above.

It is important to note, as mentioned above, that these three stages are closely linked. On one hand, we will need to put ‘first things first’, but on the other, we should realise and accept that some of the activities are interwoven and will run concurrently.

We conclude this series today having have covered the case for change management, what change management is and its benefits as well as the types and causes of change, change models, the challenges to and the process of managing change.

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