Managing Change Initiatives

Change, as people say, is one of the only certainties in life. However most individuals search for stability, and fight endlessly to prevent, or conform to change; having said that there are still some people who live for change. These agents can lead to development of social, industrial, and organizational change and without them our world would be stationary, uninspired, and boring. Yet a lot of people oppose the changes and challenges that companies bring, because they spark fears that their control will be lost and that things will just relapse.

Over the last twenty years, the corporate IT function has changed drastically and when a company seeks to introduce a significant change, according to Kurt Lewin this has to be manifested in three important stages.

Stage 1—Unfreezing
In order to introduce change or for change to occur, the existing outlook or the group has to be challenged and stripped down. We all have our unique way of viewing the world and our values, opinions, assumptions, observations, experiences, and inchoative influences all contribute to our outlook. If this is intolerant and resistant to outside influences, we will never change. We normally have to use persuasion to influence and help individuals overpower the inactivity of the status quo. Occasionally a shock is needed to start the change process. Remember people tend to be well-defended and most view change as a threat since they are of fearful losing control and their perception of certainty.

Stage 2—Changing
Once the mentality has been torn down, there comes a time of bedlam and confusion. This is because nothing is as it was before, and the new mentality has not replaced the former one. Individuals who have disapproved of change normally know and understand that the process is a bumpy and uncomfortable. What was normal and made sense no longer adds up. Then there comes the time for them to see things from a different view point, and then there is a revision of the challenging assumptions and beliefs and the way entire world is viewed and experienced.

Stage 3—Refreezing
After reasoning things through and creating a new outlook on things, fundamental change has occurred. At this point, basically all of the hard work has been done and new comfort has been attained since the ground has solidifies once again.

The bottom line is CIOs and others who are spearheading the change projects in organizations tend to find themselves treading the very difficult middle ground. They are often caught between sensitivity and decisiveness between trying to get stakeholders to agree to change and then working ahead even in the middle of resistance from the group.

What CIOs Need to Avoid When Managing Change Initiatives

1. Failing to Prepare Employees for the Possibility of Change
Companies often attempt to start change initiatives as reaction to a new and unexpected threat, but, unless you had geared up your people for the probability of change, they will fall behind. If you are in a market that is always changing, you can prepare your people by making them aware that change can happen unexpectedly and they will need to be responsive when this happens. If they are fully aware and understand the need for change, they are likely to be more responsive when the need arises.

2. Assuming that People Will Understand the Need for Change
Assuming that your people will agree with your grounds for a change initiative is a huge mistake. Most times, people have strong opinions about the world and if you were to abruptly make change their world, they will show strong views about that as well. A lot of people hate the disturbance that normally accompanies changes, even if in the end it will result in their advantage. Therefore you must take time to get their opinions and beliefs on the table and create an open forum for discussion. You will be surprised to know that peoples’ views will not change by your argument’s strength but by the discussion with their co-workers.

3. Initiating another Change before Allowing People to Adjust to the Last
Not allowing enough time for people to adjust to the change before making another change initiative launch is a very common problem that management tends to make. People need some time to adjust and settle in a new situation as well as to come to terms with the loss of their former situation. According to Kurt Lewin’s theory, change can only occur once the new external environs has been internalized and structured. This will take time it will not happen immediately.

4. Expecting Employees to See Change Positively
Believing that positive change will be more easily accepted than negative one is also another common misconception. Any change whether negative or positive need time for adjustment. Even at some of life’s most advantageous change points, confusion and depression occur and the organizational realm is no exception. All ways anticipate that the change process will be challenging no matter its nature that way you will be better prepared to deal with anything that may come with this change initiative.

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