Ready, Set, Change … the 20% solution!

Change Management CourseVilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, observed in 1906 that twenty percent of the Italian people owned eighty percent of their country’s accumulated wealth. Over time and through application in a variety of environments, this analytic has come to be called Pareto’s Principle, the 80-20 Rule. Pareto’s principle states that a small number of causes are responsible for a large percentage of the effect, in a ratio of about 20:80.

Expressed in a management context, 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one’s results absorb 80% of one’s resources or efforts. If Pareto’s rule holds true in a change process, the manager will have only 20% support and up to 80% resistance.

One of the toughest challenges is to get the entire organization engaged in a particular change effort. That challenge is to ensure that each individual understands his or her role in making change effective. Involvement and engagement in the change process is critical.

A lack of focus concerning the reasons for the change can sabotage the entire process. Help your team to focus on customer issues instead of issues with one another.

Expand Communications Efforts
This is no time to lose touch with your team. The normal communication channels in the organization may not be sufficient. The rumor mill will be at its peak. Meanwhile, your team will be eager for answers and information. Communication is a two-way process that provides opportunity for team input to you. Take time with people, be available and ask more questions. Maintain high visibility and “managing by walking around”. Keep the team updated on a regular basis even if you don’t have any new information. Let them know that, as well. Be specific and candid as you clear up the rumors and misinformation that invade information channels.

Search for Hidden Issues
Part of your job is to find, and then face up to, the problems and aggravations that routinely occur during times of organizational change. Frequently, the solution to one problem generates a new set of problems requiring additional solutions. That is consistent during a change process. You should expect this and prepare for it. Actually, if you have not uncovered some hidden problems, consider looking another layer or two deeper in your operation, because you need to know what you’re up against. You can’t lead if you’re the last one to know where the problems are.

One of the things that you can do immediately is to make it easy for your team members and others people to tell you those things you don’t necessarily want to hear. Consider incentives for staff identify problems and report organizational breakdowns. Don’t become known for “shooting the messengers that brings bad news.” Let the staff know that the unvarnished truth is welcome. Their perspective may be different than yours. If your people say there is a problem, take it seriously and investigate. They may be able to specify issues and concerns that occur on a daily basis, but not at your level. Each staff member’s perspective is important to them and should be important to you.

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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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