If we want to help ourselves and others manage change, what can we do?Empathy: The First Key to Successful ChangeA practical definition of empathy is, putting yourself in the shoes of the other person.
In managing change, the first key is to know to what extent the change will be resented or rejected, accepted or welcomed. If everyone is enthusiastic about it, it is probably wise to proceed immediately. But if it will be resented and resisted, it is probably wise to reconsider or go slowly.
In order to be accurate in analyzing the degree of resistance or acceptance, it is necessary to consider each person individually. The better a manager knows the individuals who will be affected by the change the more accurate will be his or her analysis of their reactions.
Participation: The Second Key to Successful Change
Empathy, the first key, requires a manager to determine feelings and reactions toward a change. The second key, participation, requires a manager to get involvement from those concerned with and affected by the change.
Participation is a very important factor in the successful management of change. It begins with a philosophy among all levels of management, beginning at the top. They must believe that participation can benefit both the organization and the employees.
It then requires implementation. In most cases a formal approach is best. This would include a specific program such as quality circles with its structure and training. In some cases an informal approach can be successful.
Communication: The Third Key to Successful Change
Communication, the third key, requires the manager to maintain continuous, complete, and clear communication with all persons affected by the change.
The following aspects of communication are frequently misunderstood or often ignored by managers.
Communication means to create understanding and not merely to send information. If people don’t understand, the manager has not communicated.
The criteria for deciding to whom to communicate should include those who want to know as well as those who need to know.
Care should be taken regarding the timing of the communication. First of all, managers should be told before non managers and union officers get the information. Secondly, those who will be affected should be told as far in advance as practical.
Managers should give thought to the method of communicating before doing it. It is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of oral and written communication. When making a decision, it is also important to use empathy. In most cases, oral as well as written may be necessary to get understanding as well as to gain acceptance. In very few cases will written communication alone do the job.
Author: Matthew Coppola, Managing Director of Client Centric.
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