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Is change good for you?

Change is an integral part of business success but many owners are overlooking the people factor.

After investing in a fantastic ergonomically sound, lightweight body-worn vacuum, you can imagine my surprise (not to mention disappointment) when the cleaner I employ to look after the guest facilities refused to use our new ergonomically sound, lightweight body-worn vacuum.

I told her it would make her job easier, quicker, and safer but since there was nothing wrong with the old vacuum she dug in her heels.

She has a point.

How do you tell your loyal team that while the company isn’t broken its survival depends on everyone’s ability to drive sustainable business success?

Successful change, according to Harvard Business School’s Professor John Kotter, is 80% leadership and about 20 percent management.

But frequently, he says, those percentages are reversed.

Indeed in my own experience, initially in the not-for-profit sector, well-meaning directors paid lip service to strategy in pursuit of the charity dollar and later, in a global IT firm, change was imposed by promoting key people out of the business unit leaving the rest of the team to sink or swim.

During the past decade, an entire industry has emerged to validate the corporate obsession with change. Exciting new careers have evolved in organizational psychology and change management while a steady flow of innovations helps businesses get it right. And help they need: a recent UK study into organizational change shows one in three major reorganizations fail.

Sydney-based change consultant Clare Fisher says it’s hard to get a positive result when change is rarely viewed as a positive experience. And that’s because globalization, deregulation, privatization, consumer empowerment, mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing, and technology advances are all driving at the bottom line with one clear message: get on the bus or get left behind.

But despite the aggression of corporate culture, growth matters whatever the size of your company. Fisher tells her clients to work on the business, not in it. This means buying in the skills you need to facilitate growth and ensuring your leadership remains innovative and creative. It’s important, she says to continue to hang out with your staff and self-audit: ask if everything you’re doing is working toward the customer or are you just doing the process for process’ sake.

While there’s no avoiding the human propensity to maintain the status quo, effective change requires only a few simple strategies: good communication, skilled training, real collaboration, and teamwork that rewards change behavior and manages resistance – the latter was achieved brilliantly by the two cricket sides who recognized the sensitivities upfront and agreed to a two-year transitional period.

There’s also a lot to be said for common sense. Our cleaner now job shares and her new teammate has taken to the vacuuming like a fish to water. She Googled our new model and discovered that the secret to a better clean is in the next generation which comes with a see-through dome lid for checking the dust level at a glance. This, she says, will make her job really easy!

Below you’ll find some useful web resources and articles:

Change Management dot com

Emerald Insight

Change Management

Change is a constant feature of modern working life 

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