Managers who don’t wish to change; lead change

Why is it we persist in asking managers to implement change without (a) providing managers with an understanding of the change process, the phases of change, the impact of change upon individuals and the strategies and skills to transition people through change and (b) without managers spending time providing their people with an understanding of change and the strategies and skills to transition through change.

I know, the two are interrelated. If managers understood the change process and were able to develop their people they would be able to provide people with the strategies to transition through change; and in turn, people would be able to help the manager to transition through change.

In most instances, I believe it is a case of the blind leading the blind. When managers themselves have not had the opportunity to learn about and understand the change process, are not aware of change models, do not have in place appropriate strategies and skills to transition change then they are likely to resort to the ‘one size fits all’ approach to implementing change.

Change for most people is a grieving process. They are being asked to leave behind the past and adopt a new future. This is not easy to do. The majority of people, including managers are risk averse. They prefer to remain with the past, or a safe passageway from the past to the future, than to take a risk. Even if hindsight were to show that remaining in the past was detrimental, most would remain there. Each person grieves in their own way. Applying a cookie cutter approach to change management appears to guarantee the majority of change initiatives will fail to meet their objectives and for those that do, the cost is often very high.

How difficult is it provide managers with an understanding of the change process? The models are widely known and accessible. Why would a senior management team implement a change program without first ensuring all managers understood the change process, could identify stress created by change and had a handle on a variety of strategies and tools for transitioning people through change? The reason, I believe is sheer, bloody-minded, arrogance. Senior managers simply assume that if they dictate something will happen, then it will! They don’t believe they need to manage the change process or help transition people through change. Not only that, they don’t want to spend time learning something new and they don’t want to spend time working one on one with their middle and frontline managers through this process. They would rather issue a dictate and then blame others if it doesn’t work.

Those are my thoughts for the day.

John Coxon



About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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