From my Kitsap Business Journal column – January 31, 2012 @ 4:28pm | Dan Weedin

Change management is a hot buzzword in business circles today. Everywhere you turn, experts espouse ways to deal with change in the workplace, in the world, and even in your home. CEOs and executives want to learn how to manage change; implore change; beg for change; and even get exact change. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can stop. You don’t need no stinking change.

You read that right. You don’t have to change. You don’t have to know how to manage it or teach it. You can go on forever doing just what you’ve been doing all these years. It’s your life and your business. No change!

However, if you go that route, you need to know what you’re in for. In all decisions that we make, there are consequences — both good and bad. And let’s be honest, change management is a conscious decision. Let’s see what happens when we avoid making change in our organizations…

You become stale and obsolete. You can only sell the same “stuff” to the same people for so long. Daily newspapers, phone book ad executives, and video stores all found it out too late. There’s always a bigger and better ship coming around the corner. You need vision and the ability to be nimble to stay relevant.

Your people leave. Without change, people get bored. They don’t see growth or potential and will find greener grass. Maybe an even bigger problem is that they get complacent and just decline in efficiency and ability.

You can’t recruit new talent. This goes along with good people leaving your business. You have a certain “street cred” (credibility for all you non-changers). Your reputation gets around and the perception of you as being dull or dynamic will either bring in young talent or repel it.

You lose business. People want to work with cutting edge and vibrant organizations. If you are stale; can’t keep quality people; or run ineffective operations, then you’re yesterday’s news (which happens quicker today than ever before).

You don’t have to change in business. You also don’t have to brush your teeth, eat healthy, exercise, read books, or wear sunscreen. Those all have consequences, too.

If you do find yourself wanting to avoid those calamities I’ve listed, here’s a short and sweet guide to affecting change management in your organization.

Do a pulse check on yourself as a leader. What do your key employees think about how well you run the organization and treat them? There are many fine experts who you can hire to run a benchmarking analysis of your leadership skills. You have to start at the top if you plan on effectively leading change.

Be very clear about your vision. Your employees, your customer base, and your entire supply chain need to know the destination. They don’t necessarily need to know the methodology to get there; but they do need to know where you plan on leading them. Change without vision is doomed to failure.

Have patience. Change is a slow moving beast, especially as the organization gets larger. There is bound to be “gravitational pull” to default back to the good old days. Be patient, yet firm in the transition.

Don’t quit. The worst thing that can happen is that when the going gets tough, you capitulate. This is terrible role modeling and the quickest way to slide back. In the end, the decline would be worse than had you not tried to change at all!

Celebrate successes. I fear that one of the things we as humans are worst at is complimenting and rewarding good behavior. You have allies who will work hard to reach your vision. Recognize them and applaud their efforts. Pretty soon, you will find others trying to do the same.

We live in a global, highly technological, and fluid business world. The economy and business practices are going to change whether you’re on board or not. You don’t have to change, but not being prepared and skilled in change management will lead to dire consequences at some point.

Those businesses that embrace change, and know how to effectively manage it within their organizations, will ultimately be successful regardless of where and how the world turns.

Hey can you spare some change, pal?

(Editor’s note: Dan Weedin is a Poulsbo-based management consultant, speaker, and mentor. He leads an executive peer-to-peer group here in Kitsap County where he helps executives improve personally, professionally, and organizationally by enhancing leadership skills. He is one of only 32 consultants in the world to be accredited as an Alan Weiss Master Mentor. Reach Weedin at (360) 697-1058; e-mail at [email protected] or visit the web site at © 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved.)


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