Change … maintain a PMA!

Change Management CourseYour attitude as a manager or supervisor will be a major factor in determining what the climate is within your work group. Your Positive Mental Attitude is one of the few things that are totally under your control. Be upbeat, positive, and enthusiastic. The attitude and morale of your subordinates will be favorably influenced. They will perform better, and that makes your job easier.

Change can be stressful and a test of your emotional resilience. It is easy to be upbeat when things are going well. Success under adverse conditions is what tests your ability to perform as a leader. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna and ignore the reality of a difficult situation to demonstrate a positive mental attitude.

Give Clear Directions
Organizational changes usually create a heightened level of uncertainty for all employees. As a manager or supervisor, your responsibility is to manage in a way that minimizes ambiguity and clears up as many of the “unknowns” as possible. During this period of change, your team will respond well to hands-on management. You may decide to manage in a more structured fashion. This will require you to ensure that you give your people generous management direction and frame their duties and assignments in specific terms, rather than leaving things general and vague.

Another technique that you can use is to assign definite deadlines and timetables regarding when work is to be completed. One of the pervasive things that you must guard against is organizational slippage during times of transition and change. Organizational change creates many distractions, so employees need “focusing” by management.

Focus on Short-Range Objectives
Organizational change often means that you will have a loss of resources within your work group. You may lose some of your people, yet have as much or more work to do than before. Budget cuts may make it tougher to achieve what the company expects of you. One way of maximizing effectiveness is to operate with clearly defined goals and objectives. That enables you to get the best mileage out of your people. An added benefit is that it helps your people get their minds off the past and become oriented to the future.

You will get your best results at this stage of the game if you focus intensely on short-term targets. Long-term goal setting requires more time and effort, and there is more forecasting involved. Your people will benefit from seeing the short-range goals achieved. It will help to build them up, build confidence and restore momentum to the organization. Concentrate on quarterly, monthly, and even weekly performance targets. Once these have been established, you must do an equally good job of communicating them to the people who will be responsible for their achievement. This calls for a lot of publicity.

Establish Clear Priorities for Your Team
Transition and change will present many new pressure points. Some of the organization’s priorities will change, and you will have to integrate these new priorities into your team’s workload. There will be many people and problems competing for your time. You must be careful not to let those who merely make the most noise get the most attention. This could lead you into a fire fighting mode. When this happens, you will be sidetracked to low-priority issues that consume a lot of time and energy yet has a low payoff. Keep your team’s priorities clear in their minds when you delegate work to them.

Don’t allow employees to assume that the last assignment is the most important one and pursue it at the expense of more meaningful tasks.

Redefine Each Person’s Role
Work roles may need re-clarification so that employees know exactly where and how to direct their efforts. Even if they are moving in what seems like the right direction, verify to your satisfaction. Meet with each of your team members to redefine job responsibilities as necessary. Be very specific, especially on issues such as decision-making authority, personal accountability, and reporting requirements. Ensure that all team members have a precise understanding of the standards of performance they will be expected to achieve. Help each to identify the critical aspects of the job.

Share Responsibility for Implementing Change
This is important. Include everyone who might be affected by the change in making suggestions about how to implement the change. Get everyone to agree on what is changing and why. As the manager or supervisor, you will need to assume the role of champion or catalyst for the improvement process if no one volunteers. Encourage staff members to raise questions regarding the assumptions that led to the changes and also to try new ideas. The team will feel more comfortable about making changes if they feel that the environment will be conducive for them to learn from any mistakes.

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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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