One of the key competencies required of all individuals today is the ability to anticipate and respond effectively to any change that comes along. This skill is needed even more in today's fast-paced and competitive work environment, where it is expected that we demonstrate some "change agent" skills.
These skills enable us to lead ourselves, individuals, groups and ultimately, entire organizations in implementing actions that enable 'vision' to be successfully transformed into 'reality.'
The nature of change has many forms. Sometimes change is highly personal, related to a significant shift in circumstances and perspective about people or things. At other times, change is initiated by an organization. Change may be small-scale, affecting individuals or pieces of the organization, or it may be large-scale, impacting the organization in its entirety. Change that is evolutionary and incremental is called ORGANIC change. Change that is dramatic and transformational is called STEP-CHANGE.Whatever form it takes, change needs to be managed.
There are seven competencies that contribute to effective change management skills. Learning these will enable a smoother acceptance of change for yourself and those you lead.
- Proactive Thinking---- Proactive thinking is the ability to maintain a conscious awareness of events and situations around you, and be ready to take action when you see change on the horizon. It asks the questions: "To what extent do you regularly reflect upon what might happen ?" Allow yourself some quality time to think about the future and possible change that could occur. Generate a range of possible scenarios and write down what might need to change now to avoid a problem, or to capitalize on an opportunity later. When significant events or situations occur, try to anticipate what could happen, and plan how you might respond positively.
- Organization for Change ---- Think about every reasonably significant change as a project (like moving to a new house or launching a new advertising campaign). Develop a written plan to include contingencies, milestones, and measures, and think about how you will organize yourself, other people, and resources to cope day-to-day and week-by-week.
- Involving Others ---- Look to build relationships with people who are open and generous with their time, and ask them about their ideas and how to handle changes. Start to offer a few ideas and thoughts of your own (where you have experienced success), and seek to regularize this exchange process.
- Visualizing the Future ---- Sketch or draw your vision of the future on regular occasions, or find time to close your eyes and think about what tomorrow could be like. Having done this, work backward to list all the things that would have to be initiated now or in the short term to help this vision become a possible reality.
- Communicating Clearly ---- Practice writing or presenting what is important for people to understand about a future change on one piece of paper before reading it out loud (to the mirror, your family, or even a pet). Think about the different audiences that will receive your message, and how it might need to be adapted and sent in different ways to make it entirely clear.
- Breaking from the Past ---- Look to draw up early comparisons of past and future approaches or practices. Once the evidence that the new way is better is clear, develop different ways to describe the downside of the old and the value of the new ways. lf possible, find a visible way to be a role model for others.
- Consolidating New Learning ---- When planning any change transition, design and develop progressive opportunities for people to gently take on new practices or behaviors without feeling coerced or'Jettisoned" to the point where they become uncomfortable and fail to standardize and learn to cope by themselves.
"Change" is part of life. How we address it takes skills. If you feel others can benefit from this information, please share it with others. They will be glad you did.