Managing Change

We have done work extensively in the public sector over the last few years although I do not think we will be doing much over the next two.

One of the biggest challenges will be asking managers whose jobs are at risk to lead teams who also face uncertainty, all in a climate where clear cut decisions about stay or go will be made more difficult in many organisations because the public sector finds redundancy deals prohibitively expensive.

It is going to be painful, slow and messy.  We have learned a few lessons with our clients about managing this kind of process over the last few years.  10 tips that may be helpful are:

  1. People need to understand that they have to take control over their lives.  No one will rescue them.  They need help in putting plans together that increase their sense of control
  2. Support people by helping them through key career decisions, revitalising their CVs and interviewing skills (use outplacement specialists not managers)
  3. Build networks so people can help each other
  4. Equip managers with simple models to help them understand how people (themselves included) go through change
  5. Collect numerous stories about practical things other teams do to manage change from job hunting through to marking endings to cutting red tape and developing each other’s skills
  6. Create opportunities to vent about how they are feeling
  7. Create video diaries from colleagues who have been through difficult change explaining the lessons they think they learned looking back, and what they would do differently
  8. Increase leadership visibility but be sensible about it; don’t overdo it but don’t duck the difficult questions – be seen to take them on even if the answers are not there
  9. Explain how the process works and be prepared to explore it in detail – do not be unprepared for these questions
  10. Keep reminding people of the reasons for the changes

Mike Pounsford

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