Face of Quality: Blast the Change Process

February 1, 2011
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Become a change agent to keep change from adversely affecting your team.



Ushering in change can be a daunting task for most managers. People usually don’t like change, and what they don’t like they can actively resist.

But managers know that adaptability is as necessary as quality to the survival of every company. In today’s competitive global marketplace, your organization must be poised to respond to external changes. It must be able to shift gears at a moment’s notice to take advantage of new business opportunities or to prevent the loss of valuable customers.

One way to do this is to take an approach known as the B-L-A-S-T technique. This acronym stands for build security, live up to your commitments, absorb criticism, share your vision and take follow-up action.

By following these steps, you should be able to see your people through the transition period, and ensure that the change is a resounding success.

Build security. The first step toward successful change is to reduce the threat of change by building a sense of security for your people. When you upset your people’s daily routine, you threaten their security. But you must realize that all people need security in their lives in order to function properly.

Refer to it as an upgrade, not a change. The word change can mean anything from a small adjustment to a huge upheaval. People often equate change with disruption, a negative influence.

Provide a structure for change. Map out a detailed, step-by-step plan of how and when certain changes will take place. A logical step-by-step process will give your people a framework to operate within, a comforting sense of structure that will help them stop worrying.

Live up to your commitments. After making your people comfortable with the upgrade, follow through on your plans and promises. Keep in mind that people do not tolerate inconsistency between their management’s words and actions.

Management is going to be evaluated by everyone in the organization. The slightest inconsistency between your words and actions will be detected, analyzed and interpreted, and may be used to discredit your motives for making the change. Therefore, take care to be true to your word. And if the company’s plans for the change must be altered in any way, be sure to update your people and explain the reasoning behind the adjustments.

Absorb criticism. Most changes will require some adjustment. When you see that one of your changes is going to need fine-tuning, present the problems to your people and ask for input. Actually, before difficulties arise, you should make it clear to your people that you are open to comments, constructive criticism and suggestions: everyone will benefit greatly by gaining many points of view.

Share your vision. You know what you want your changes to accomplish, but do your people always know? If you share your goals with your people, they’ll be better able to help you meet them.

Achieving a shared vision may be the most important step in the change process. Share your vision with your team by using staff meetings, discussion groups, task forces and one-on-one meetings to clarify the goal of each change. Stress how the updates will benefit everyone.

Take follow-up action. Some changes will not be universally accepted. In some cases, a certain number of people will continue to oppose change. This opposition usually is not significant enough to cause the change to fail, but it could cause change to falter.

This is why it’s important to follow up periodically to determine who in your group has misgivings. Once these people have been identified, work to change their opinion. Most of the time, the oppositions will be evident. The people will voice disagreement and doubts. When this happens, take the time to counter their dissent and concerns individually.

Once everyone puts their cards on the table, you will then have a chance to address their misgivings. By confronting people’s fear with the facts, you can often make them allies in the change process. We realize that change is often desirable, frequently necessary, seldom embraced but always inevitable. Utilizing some of the above points everyone benefits and everyone wins.

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