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Managing Change is Critical to Effective Leadership
Want to make your CSA run more efficiently and effectively? Here are some "quick tips" from experienced professionals that can help you hit the ground running to avoid mistakes on your next CSA.
John C. Bruckman, PhD
Change Management Group
Scotts Valley, Calif.
Managing change is a critical element of any leadership function. The successful CSA facilitator should be able to effectively address and reduce the fear of change that naturally exists in the work group. The following techniques will help implement a more effective change process within a CSA facilitated workshop:
Set the Example
Words and actions must be consistent for credibility. Employees will generally take their cues from the senior staff members' behavior, despite all declarations of intent. The facilitator should ensure that senior managers follow up on the recommendations resulting from the workshop. Most employees quickly "burn out" on changes that are announced on a regular basis but are not consistently reinforced over a period of time.
Consider the Group's Perspective
A clear understanding of what drives the group is necessary before introducing new elements into the mix. When attempting to gain a group's support for needed change, the greatest leverage lies in discovering what self-interest they have in maintaining the status quo and what would motivate them to effect change. When CSA facilitators approach groups from the participants' perspective and understand what they might have to lose, they will be able to intervene in ways that avoid triggering individual defense mechanisms, thereby preserving open discussions and feedback.
Leadership integrity is an important variable in the successful completion of a changing process. If the doors of change are not open, the intervention process must concentrate on team-building, trust building, and open and honest communication prior to the introduction of change. If the CSA facilitator can lower the work group's fear levels, he or she can open the doors to change, as well as concentrate on methodologies that will keep them open. Authentic participation in the change process, with opportunities to raise issues of concern, will help keep a group open to the possibility of change.
Be Willing to Compromise
If management or a facilitator focuses on a predetermined outcome and displays unwillingness to compromise, the possibility of work group support is minimized. Employees are much more likely to support a new set of ideas that they have had a key role in shaping.
Allow Group Ownership
Ownership of the proposal for change is instrumental to a successful change process. If a senior manager generates most of the ideas, the facilitator should construct a process that allows the group members to take and make the ideas their own.
John C. Bruckman, PhD, is managing director of the Change Management Group, based in California. During the last 33 years, Bruckman has consulted on change-management processes with more than 300 organizations in the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
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