Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Sanitising change management at your company

Change is a constant factor in the life of all organisations.  Most people fear change.

More often than not, change is a constant distraction to company staff. Even excellent and focused employees can be unsettled by change. When staff are disturbed, firm productivity suffers. Anxiety amongst staff causes worry, stress, and undermines commitment to the brand.

Yet, change is an organisational development (OD) constant and owners, boards, leaders and managers should help staff to perceive change as normal and a constant.  According to the SloanReview, many executives talk about the need for greater flexibility and adaptability from their companies. But the truth is that most businesses have organised themselves in ways that inherently discourage change.

Sanitising change in your team and organisation

Clearly, seamless change and its management are a given at the modern corporation.

Senior level jobs will be won on one’s ability to manage change continuously. The ability to manage organisations that are built-to-change is the skill that will get you your next promotion or dream job. Sadly, change management is not an ordinary skill. However, the good news is that it can be mastered.

According to the Sloanreview, successful change effort in an organisation is driven by five variables.  Incidentally, the five variables align with three of the Effectiveness lab’s four OV’s – people, design and you, the leader.

Successful change management depends on getting the best out of the individuals and teams we lead.

  • Talent management

The job description (JD) has traditionally defined the type of talent that the organisation seeks from an individual. The static nature of the JD portrays an organisation that is stable. The truth is that JD’s don’t have a place in a built-to-change entity. It’s no surprise that increasingly, the majority of an employee’s tasks fall under that dreaded job-responsibility coded: “any other responsibilities as assigned by your supervisor…”. The pace of change at a modern organisation makes proper and long-term task definition impossible.

In the face of constant and unpredictable change, approaches to talent recruitment, selection and retention have to change. Firms should hire agile and quick learners with a high tolerance for ambiguity. The Effectiveness lab calls these employees risk-junkies. Risk junkies appreciate that change is a constant factor in the organisation, that tomorrow will be different from today, and that continually seeking knowledge is the new normal.

The relationship between the employer, employee and organisation is changing. It’s changing from a guarantee of lifetime employment to providing quality at the gate. You can only be employed for as long as your skills set is still relevant to the organisation. Employment is no longer guaranteed by loyalty, long-service, and seniority but unique value creation

This is the talent management paradigm for the built-to-change firm

  • Remuneration:

It follows that Pay and rank at the built-to-change entity are not necessarily linked. What an employee gets paid is connected their individual productivity. This is the age of performance-related pay systems (PRP).

Built-to-change organisations link pay systems to strategic levers like individual innovation skills, creation of signature value within an organisations value chain, meeting targets within the stipulated short timelines, etc

Successful PRP systems at built-to-change entities are built on clearly defined and aligned organisational competences

  • Structure:

The traditional corporate architecture can no longer suffice in what is increasingly a complex (not complicated) world of business.

Firms that fit the built-to-change OD. architecture have certain characteristics. They tend to be boundary-less – emphasise collaboration – are horizontally networked and value horizontal than vertical power and influence – rapidly innovate – and are mostly technology focused.

A structure like the above constantly pushes teams and individuals to achieve stretch goals. Moreover, continuously shifting goals. The structure is appropriate for the bionically balanced entity that balances multiple OV’s at any one time: strategy, leadership, design, and people.

The number one priority of such firms is to get the best out of its people: empathy, listening, relationship building, understanding others, plus carrying the team along willingly and not merely dragging them.

It’s worth noting that the top value-creating firms in the world are networked firms. The majority of these businesses are what we call at the Effectiveness lab, ‘digital generation’ entities that are networked, loosely organised and are adding to their bottom-lines by the hour.

According to the Effectiveness lab, seven out of ten of the world’s most valuable brands are technology firms. The first two, Apple and Google dwarf the other eight in value. These companies do not operate the conventional organisational structure and have mastered the art of managing turbulent change

  • Information and decision processes:

A tool we are all familiar with at organisations, both for and not for profit, is the budget. The budget, ultimately, drives business decisions at an organisation. Yet, according to the Sloanreview, annual budgets are a poor fit for a built-to-change organisation. Apparently, tools like budgets are typically inflexible and frequently become outdated even before they are signed off by the boards at companies.

If we are discouraging the use of conventional tools like budgets, what is the alternative?

Well, the good news is that when companies operate the PRP model, decision making is seamlessly pushed to where such decisions should be made. The people making such decisions are driven by signature value creation within the firm’s value chain. When this happens, decision making naturally occurs in or close to organisation profit centres informed by activity-based costing. All this requires transparent information management and of course, up to date information

  • Leadership:

Leaders knowing and understanding their leadership-style personification and modelling behaviour to match their style is fundamental to the success or failure of a leader at the built-to-change entity.

Smart leaders know and understand the leadership model they ascribe to – and should behave as such. This embodiment of leadership-style influences the behaviour of intelligent leaders and ultimately, perception by the others that they lead and lead with. Smart leaders do not derive their leadership endorsement from the control and power they have in the organisation, but from the perception that others have of them.

To succeed at the built-to-change firm requires distributing leadership through the organisation. Leaders have to empower people that work for them. After all, it’s the people below the leaders that are on the frontline and do the real work. Leaders at a built-to-change entity work to build a prosperous community of practice (COP). A COP that aligns with the firm’s core business.

We hope that this blog will help you, the leader and your team to perceive change as normal plus manage it well


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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