112. Human Resources Management: Surviving During Changes In Management (1/2)

14 important takeaways from this lecture:

00:00:27 Branding strategy changes, moving from a function-oriented business model to product-oriented business model, re-structuring, re-engineering, mergers and acquisitions, cultural changes, payscale and bonus changes, down-sizing, right-sizing, change in leadership cultures… All of these are examples that require significant change management.

Change management is “an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations to a desired future state.” The changes are specific, significant, strategic changes made to the company of which many, if not all of the employees are impacted. Be it as a victim or as a leader, but this is something that everyone will experience at least once over the course of their career.

People like change, but they don’t like to be changed. Change requires modifying existing behavioral patterns, processes, procedures and attitudes. As a result change always comes disfunctional resistance. Companies don’t want employees who are resistant to change.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in the lecture Human Resources Management: How To Keep Quality Employees (½) that high-performing employees tend to leave companies because they have more options available to them, are likely to be more mobile and flexible, well-networked,etc. and that low-performing employees tend to leave companies because they can’t adapt and fit in with the company culture, which results in a limited loyalty to the company, and low-performs usually have conflicts with their peers, as it is their peers who must constantly do that person’s work.  Once that person has been branded as a loser, they prefer to change companies than try to overcome their ‘reputation,’ etc.

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This means that it’s usually it’s the mediocre employees that are the most likely to stick around]

00:20:49 People’s lives are always impacted by decisions, both by your own and by others around them – subordinates, colleagues, bosses…

Whenever people are faced with change made by others that affect them, they tend to respond quite predictively:

The middle stages (immobilization, denial, anger, bargaining, and depression) in the chart above are dysfunctional and can really lead to problems for your company.

Humans need to feel in control of their situation, and the fact that you cannot control something drives you crazy; often more so than the problem itself:

  • Being trapped in an elevator
  • Having an annoying dripping sound coming from the pipes somewhere inside the wall above your bedroom
  • Neighbors who go away on vacation and forget to turn their annoying alarm clock off

00:27:43 Learned helplessness is “a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation,” and a behavior in which a human is forced to endure painful or unpleasant circumstances, and yet unwilling to take actions to avoid or overcome the unpleasant circumstances, even if it is in their power to do so. Depression is a common consequence of severe learned helplessness.

00:33:03 You need to plan ahead and address this resistance.

Change is seen as subjective. People worry about change and you have to take their concern seriously, even if their worry is unfounded. Accept their reality and address it, and they will take you seriously and be more open to listening to and reasoning with you.

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00:40:22 Formal leaders are those who, on paper, are granted by the company the authority to persuade. Thought leaders, or opinion leaders, are the naturally persuasive people who other people look up to and consider their opinion to be important, both for good and for bad.

When it comes to handling resistance, managing the discourse of the opinion leaders plays a significant role in change management.

00:42:23 There are essentially two types of resistance:

  1. Overt resistance – when people speak up about it and discuss their resistance openly and publically
  2. Hidden resistance – when people work in secret to prevent change, or actively manoeuvre to sabotage the change without anybody knowing

Active involvement is probably the best way of dealing with resistance. Involve all parties in the discussion and decision making process, even if the decision still stands, and the people are much more likely to go along with it.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more about involving people in the decision making process, even if they won’t be officially involved, read the book 27 Powers Of Persuasion by Chris St. Hilaire.

Also, in the documentary Human Resources Management: Social Engineering In The 20th Century, Researchers found that the very act of allowing workers to talk about their feelings reduced the possibility of aggitation and rebellion. It made workers feel as if they mattered. Even if the social relations remained fundamentally the same.”

The Hawthorne Experiments found was that no matter what changes were made, everytime they had made a change after having discussed it with employees, production went up and employee satisfaction went up.”

-Stephen M. Sachs, Political Scientist]

00:46:21 Just as there are predicable responses for change beyond the control of the individual, there is a preditable response for change made within the control of the individual.

  • Uninformed Optimism – naivité: At the beginning of a project you are quite optimistic and ready to take on the world
  • Informed Pessimism: As you begin the daunting task,you begin to realize the mountains you are up against and the difficult decisions you must make, you become discouraged, even regretful
  • Checking out – You reach the point where you feel like giving up but continue despite
  • Hopeful Realism – The hardest parts of the project have been overcome and you can begin to see the end in sight
  • Informed Optimism – You are now able to predict, and even taste the end of the project.
  • Completion – You successfully accomplish the project you set out to do.

A good book to read is Managing At The Speed Of Change by Daryl Conner.

00:51:04 John Kotter, one of the leading professors on change management identified the top 8 essential ingredients in a change management process that help improve the rate of success in your change projects:

Reaching, or being able to create, a level of urgency is a key trigger in change. Until people feel that the change is absolutely necessary, they have no reason to get behind it.

00:54:51 Complacency is a major roadblock to change, often caused because:

  • Human nature is to deny
  • Upper-management is overly optimistic
  • Company has a kill-the-messenger or a low-confrontation culture
  • Too many visible resources seem readably available
  • Employees have narrow functional goals
  • The wrong performance metrics are too important
  • Lack of sufficient feedback from external sources
  • Low overal performance standards
  • No proof of an impending crisis

00:56:58 Never talk to a manager about a problem unless you have a solution you can propose. Presenting only problems enough times earns you the reputation of being the ‘messenger-of-bad-news.’

01:00:12 Along with creating a sense of urgency you need to have a well-defined vision to communicate.

Change Management Framework

01:05:52 The first step in the change management framework is initialization: The birth and development of an idea to improve the company. The initialization phase ends when the person in power makes a final ‘yes/no’ decision.

If yes, then the scope, objectives & vision are established. Then the setup, principles and budget are outlined and the appropriate team is brought together.

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01:10:21 Guiding principles ensure that the project runs smoothly, efficiently and on budget. It’s imperative to choose at least one principle right at the beginning of the change process and keep it as your most important metric. For example, focusing on speed, knowing that quality may suffer.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In our interview, Isabelle Nancy, Global Accounts Manager points out that some guiding principles cannot be done together; that, for example, you cannot have advertising that will solve all your problems as well as be:

  • High-quality
  • Quick, and
  • Inexpensive

Advertising agences do their best to provide all three, and there are those few magical creative ideas that accomplish all three, but more often than not brands have to choose between two of them rather than having all three of those options.

Those in advertising know that if you want inexpensive, your campaign can be quick, but it probably won’t be as high-quality as you’d like it to be. If you want it quick, then it will be expensive and maybe not as of high-quality. If you want high-quality, then it probably can’t be done inexpensively.]

01:16:32 Chance can be instanteous – Starting January 1st, all employees must use the new software system – or gradual – Over the next four months, each deparment will make the software switch.

Of course, no change is without it’s setbacks and chaos. This requires a stabilization phase so people can get accustomed to  the change and work through any bugs.

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