Normalization … the 3rd phase of change!

Change Management ModelThe third phase of change is Normalization. In the event that you have not read previous posts, please review the Unfamiliar and Alignment phases of change. Adapting to change means determining how we can use present skills and learn the new skills necessary to at least maintain the status quo and possibly advance and improve your situation in the new organization.

There are a number of things that you can do to take charge your behavior during the change process. This may be the perfect opportunity to learn some new skills, work in a different department of the organization, receive additional training and perhaps discover some opportunities that have been there all along or that have newly developed. This is an opportunity to learn, expand your horizons and grow.

This may be a chance to let go of the past. Take the initiative is to seek out a role that you can play or lead in implementing changes that will occur in your department. When change is introduced, it usually revolves around improved customer service, additional sales, lower operating costs, faster, better, cheaper, smaller and more profitable.

Begin to chart performance against some of these anticipated benefits. Two things will be discovered: the changes have generated improvements or they have not. This is your opportunity to contribute your knowledge and expertise to tweak processes and procedures to achieve the desired results. Now, members of the organization will view you as a catalyst for change. Stated another way, you will be viewed as a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.

Some of the positive actions that you could take would be to start a “Things to Do” list. Let you staff know about this list and ask for their input to the list and encourage their involvement. Conduct brainstorming sessions to develop a list of ideas and who will take the lead in following up and reporting. To minimize disruption, work on the list in progressive increments so that you can measure the results of your efforts in some degree of isolation.

You could also conduct a post-mortem on a past change. Determine the positives of that change. In other words, determine if the change produced the intended results. Ask your staff to describe some of the adaptations they made and who helped them with the adjustment.

Develop a list of the aspect of the impending change that you can influence and focus your efforts there. Identify some potential obstacles and brainstorm solutions, and make some judgments as to whether or not your expectations are on target. It is also advisable to control stress by prudent exercise, proper diet and sufficient sleep.

Being Successful When Change Comes
Organizations are subject change. To cope with new technological, competitive, and demographic forces, leaders in every sector have sought to alter the way their organizations do business. These change efforts have been known as total quality management and business process re-engineering.

The results of a change vision are not directly proportional to the effort invested. That is, one half of your way into a change process, you are unlikely to see one half of the possible results. You may see substantially more or substantially less. Celebrating incremental improvements is a great way to keep your team motivated and sustain their commitment.

Building Coalitions
In today’s less hierarchical but more complex organizations, change leaders must win the support of employees, partners, investors, and regulators for many types of initiatives. Because you are likely to meet resistance from unexpected quarters, building a strong guiding coalition is essential. There are three keys to creating such alliances.

Engaging the Right Talent
Coalition building is not simply reaching out to whoever happens to be “in charge” of a department, organization, or other constituency; it is assembling the necessary skills, experience, and chemistry as well. A coalition of people who are good managers but ineffective leaders is unlikely to create meaningful change. The most effective partners usually have strong position power, broad experience, high credibility, and real leadership skill.

Teamwork
The more you do to support team performance, the healthier the guiding coalition will be and the more able it will be to achieve its goals. Especially during the stress of change, leaders throughout the enterprise need to draw on reserves of energy, expertise and trust. Personnel problems that were benign during ordinary times will explode during times of change. Real teams are built by doing real work together, sharing a vision and commitment to a common goal.

Motivate Your Team
Change destabilizes the organization. Team members become tentative and uncertain and they can no longer rely on the “status quo.” This is an opportune time to capture some of this new energy to motivate your team.

In actual terms you cannot motivate someone else. All team members are motivated though. They may not be motivated to do the same things that you want them to do. However, you can create the environment where they can motivate themselves. If you are able to channel some of this new energy along productive lines, you will begin to re-stabilize the team. During this period of heightened anxiety, you have their full attention and can use this to your advantage. You need to counteract some of the frustrations and job stress brought on by transition and change so that your team does not experience “job burnout”.

Encourage Risk Taking
During periods of change, you need to push team members to demonstrate more initiative and resourcefulness. Transition and change will make your team feel insecure and uncertain. They become less willing to make decisions or take risks.
Team members and supervisors may be tempted to go into a holding pattern and adopt a “play it safe” posture. Everybody seems to feel more comfortable with sins of omission, rather than sins of commission. You may note that your team is more willing to do nothing rather than risk doing the wrong thing. Your team members may be hesitant to embrace new work roles or tackle new assignments if they are uncertain regarding their own ability to make the changes.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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