It takes considerable amount of effort and time to set up an organization and get into particular mode of operation. In order to sustain and continuously climb up the ladder of growth, companies need to be lean, flexible and ready to change constantly to implement new processes, introduce or close down particular product lines, incorporate faster technologies, make strategic shifts and decisions thus stimulating creativity, learning, diversity and growth. While the change is inevitable and its need being clearly understood, resistance and adverse affects are also likely to emerge.
The important factor in execution of a successful change is that it should be properly planned/ focused along with a high degree of commitment Leadership. A Leader for any organization can be identified as a Spark plug who, because of high energy, good communication and motivational skills, and a can-do attitude, helps realizing important objectives. The leader is the catalyst that triggers good team spirit. A leader through his vision, can plan present keeping future in mind thus maximizing the outputs and minimize the risks. Leaders to act as change agents should:
- Act on & initiate good/new ideas.
- Not wait for permissions or instructions for something to be done.
- Possess large levels of energy
- Should know how to use energy to energize others
- Inspire and motivate others for the involvement in a change and give in their best.
- Value team ideas and often build on them, candidly opening up their thought processes to others.
The Leaders behavior influences others to a higher level of commitment to getting the job done, which can lead to higher productivity and accomplishment by the group.
Initiating a change process, however, does not come naturally for most leaders. They need a stimulus or motivation to think on lines of bringing a change. Stimulus can be a sudden downturn in financial results and a change becomes necessity or may be when a competitor captures market share and threatens the organization. Sometimes key people leave the organization, resulting in a different management and operational practices. Sometimes a new technology is introduced .All of these events in addition to many more cause managers/leaders to consider change, but considering a change program and successfully implementing are two different things.
Meaningful change generally occurs at a pace where executive managers and can effectively lead the change, and the organization can effectively adapt to the changes happening. If the change process is too slow, changes do not take effect or show meaningful results. If the pace is too fast, leaders lose focus, or team members can become overwhelmed. With a process to follow and commitment of the associates to participate, the leader can be an effective catalyst for change, an inspiration for team members to follow. The change process should be carefully planned and executed throughout.
There are essentially six steps of bringing up and successfully leading a change:
- Examine the change: This is a crucial step for clarifying and examining the change. If there is no improvement/growth in present business structure, change can be called off. Leader needs to carefully collect data and analyze and ensures the change is carefully aligned towards strategic vision and other priorities.
- Communicate: Effective and carefully articulated communication is always crucial to change. To build commitment and ensure others involvement, communication should be timely, clearly and should cater to individual doubts and requirements. It should include answers to specific questions like:
- Purpose of the change like how it’s related to organizational growth or how it takes care of current problem.
- Plan for implantation of the change which should follow a goal/time oriented approach.
- Show them the final outcome/picture of the Change.
- Responsibilities of team members should be clearly indicated in process of change implementation.
- Anticipate and Analyze: Diagnose possible risk prone areas in implementing the change which includes team members resistance, cultural, social and cost factors. Ensure proper monitoring of timelines and progress of a change and take corrective actions whenever required. Demonstrate personal commitment and energize others to drive the change smoothly.
- Build Acceptance: Clear and concise plan to guide the people through transition should be developed and thus get the acceptance. Share with people logical steps take to arrive at a particular decision. Share with them what is going to be the same and what is going to change.
- Implement the Change: Now the change is into action and is very much operational. Leaders need to train team members on the changed process and ensure optimum results. Training should include information on past practices, benefits of new changes, Do’s and don’ts of the process. Also encouraging the team to put in continuous improvements helps.
- Sustaining the Change: Now the Change is implemented and needs to be anchored /sustained. Monitor the change and improvements to be done wherever necessary. A disciplined approach can be maintained to monitor the change at regular intervals.
Leader’s Role in Being a Catalyst for Organization Change
- Essential to gaining commitment. When the leader is absent, group dynamics change, and rarely for the better. Most of the groups have a tendency to revert back to initial form.
- Important in initiating in any change. Leaders are selfless, their egos are in good shape; they do not fear coming off looking foolish Action oriented, they learn from mistakes, adjust, and try again. Others join in and excel, because they don’t have to take the initial responsibility, that much-dreaded first step off the cliff-even if the “drop” is less than a few feet. It is as if they need someone to take the lead, to accept the risk in leading.
- Motivating and inspiring people. Leaders as a a change agent do what common sense urges them to do, neglecting past what tradition maintains and cutting through to the essentials. And, in so doing, they may help lift the lethargy lowering like a dark cloud over those who have lost the pleasures of striving and accomplishing. Thus energizing people through the immense energy and passion will drive them.