Reduce The Pain Of Managing Change

Too many managers experience unnecessary grief over managing change.  This is often painful to watch, especially if you are a member of staff.

Change is likely less painful for managers if they focus on a few basics. Pain for management may come from – out and out visible resistance, silent resistance – a natural killer because no one says anything, compliance – people just following the rules, lack of enthusiasm, slow progress and a feeling that you are trying to push water uphill.

All of these pains have cost implications. Whether you are managing a new: product, procedure, or cost structure or experiencing significant growth, careful attention to management basics will pay off in the long run and cut the costs and discomfort of change management.

If we look at the four essential management functions, we can isolate where the pain will likely come from.

Planning – were those who will carry out the change involved in some way or other in the planning process? OK, so it is not practicable to involve everyone but were some representatives involved in shaping the plan? Your opinion formers can become change advocates if you are brave enough to involve them in your planning.

Organising – this management function is essentially about ensuring the required resources are in place. Have you allowed enough time, do the financials stack up, are the necessary tools in place and finally – have you got enough staff resources? Are you unwittingly asking too much of limited resources – if you are, you are likely to gain compliance from staff simply looking to hold onto their jobs?

Leading – have you made features of the change you want really inspiring, or is it just a question of expecting people to do as they are asked or told? What’s in it for the change makers? Have you got feedback, and have you listened (i.e. acknowledged what people have said, which is different from agreeing with them)? Are you tapping into what motivates people? How honest are you being about your own feelings about the proposed change? What will you be doing personally to change that demonstrates your commitment and belief?

Controlling – what mechanisms have you in place for measuring progress towards the goal? How will you communicate with all of those involved? How will success and progress be celebrated? Do your people see you going back to check on results?

Pain with some change is, sadly, sometimes inevitable. But serious attempts to reduce the pain you experience will pay off and improve your overall management capability.


First published June 2012. Edited 7, and 13 September 2022.

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