Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Managing Change

I started work on a request today on change management, an area I’ve looked at often in previous incarnations as a librarian for an HR consultancy and as it is something we all have to face, it might be interesting to see how the “experts” think it should be done. Many of our established clients are faced with the reality of shifting gears after years in the business, perhaps they can put some of these ideas to use. Here are a few direct lifts from sites explaining change theory.

Change Management 101: A Primer
Fred Nickols 2004

Fred Nickols of Distance Consulting provides an overview but succinctly boils down some basic strategies:

Four Basic Change Management Strategies

Strategy Description
Four Basic Change Management Strategies


  • Empirical-Rational
    People are rational and will follow their self-interest — once it is revealed to them. Change is based on the communication of information and the proffering of incentives.
  • Normative-Reeducative
    People are social beings and will adhere to cultural norms and values. Change is based on redefining and reinterpreting existing norms and values, and developing commitments to new ones.
  • Power-Coercive
    People are basically compliant and will generally do what they are told or can be made to do. Change is based on the exercise of authority and the imposition of sanctions.
  • Environmental-Adaptive
    People oppose loss and disruption but they adapt readily to new circumstances. Change is based on building a new organization and gradually transferring people from the old one to the new one.

    Factors in Selecting A Change Strategy

  • Degree of Resistance.
    Strong resistance argues for a coupling of power-coercive and environmental-adaptive strategies. Weak resistance or concurrence argues for a combination of Empircal-Rational and normative-reeducative strategies.
  • Target Population.
    Large populations argue for a mix of all four strategies, something for everyone so to speak.
  • The Stakes.
    High stakes argue for a mix of all four strategies. When the stakes are high, nothing can be left to chance.
  • The Time Frame.
    Short time frames argue for a power-coercive strategy. Longer time frames argue for a mix of empirical-rational, normative-reeducative, and
    environmental-adaptive strategies.
  • Expertise.
    Having available adequate expertise at making change argues for some mix of the strategies outlined above. Not having it available argues for reliance on the power-coercive strategy.
  • Dependency.
    This is a classic double-edged sword. If the organization is dependent on its people, management's ability to command or demand is limited.
    Conversely, if people are dependent upon the organization, their ability to oppose or resist is limited. (Mutual dependency almost always signals a requirement for some level of negotiation.)

Change Management Learning Center
Sponsored by Prosci
2005 Best Practices in Change Management
Benchmarking report411 organizations share best practices in change management
Key report findings:

  • The #1 contributor to project success is active, strong and visible sponsorship throughout the project. The top obstacles to successful change are employee resistance at all levels: front-line, middle managers, and senior managers and inadequate senior management sponsorship. Employees want to hear messages about change from two people: the CEO and their immediate supervisor - the message they want to hear from each individual is very different.
  • When asked what they would do differently next time, most teams would dedicate resources to change management.
  • The top reason for employee resistance is a lack of awareness about the change.

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