GIODN Official Blog
Front End Issues for Each Change Management Challenge During the Pandemic
- January 13, 2022
- Posted by: Dr. Cindy Banyai
- Category: Thoughts
By Dr. Bob Preziosi
It would be easy to think about managing change during the pandemic as one big issue. You figure out what you need to focus on and get started with making things happen. Nice try! What managers have to do is continuously scan the organization environment to see what has arisen lately that will require a best effort change management project. Ongoing face to face or electronic discussions with peer managers and people who work for you will surface opportunities that you may not have noticed. Once something has become known it is time to gear up. The place to begin is with an analysis of 7 key considerations.
1. Control vs. non-control. You need to determine if your change management opportunity will produce any new areas that you, your employees, fellow department managers, vendors, customers must take control over to get to the desired outcome(s). At the same time it is necessary to consider if there are any tasks that those same groups may need to let go of.. These are often little things, but the wrong course of action can lead to problems down the line. Be open to what you see or hear and move fast.
2. Comfort vs. anxiety. There has been a great deal of discussion of mental health issues during the pandemic. While managers are not mental health counselors they must be empathetic and take note of how people they interact with are dealing with the changes. It is important to find resources within or outside the organization that can be helpful in lowering anxiety. This may require a quick fix or something longer term. Letting anxiety hang around too long is never a good idea. Use people who are more comfortable with things listen to anxious people. Sometimes listening is all it takes. Managers should be fully involved listening, also.
3. Status quo vs. disruption. Many things will stay just as they are, at least for the time being. Pointing such things out to people provides a sense of stability that can that can be comforting and allows SOPs to strengthen people’s performance. Disruption, on the other hand, can make people feel that they are losing control. When this happens managers must use their best change management skills to restore as much order as possible. Loose ends need to be tightened up.
4. Cooperation vs. resistance. Little or no time needs to be spent with people who are cooperative during the pandemic. An occasional bit of positive reinforcement is always a good action to take. The people who are resistant early on must be listened to. They may have some serious reasons for their resistance. Finding out from them what is causing the resistance gives a manager a chance to eliminate what is causing the resistance…or at least temper things down a bit. Never let resistors overtake the cooperatives.
5. Known vs. unknown. There have been many surprises for managers during the pandemic. So many things around relationships, use of technology, and work tasks seem to have popped up out of nowhere. Getting people’s attention to turn the unknowns quickly into something everyone can accommodate would be a wise approach for managers. Communicating the new knowns must be rapid. The good news is that there are many knowns and the main concern is making sure that everyone knows the knowns!
6. Changed or stabilized relationships. Both live and electronic relationships are powerful motivators that managers need to pay attention to. Providing every opportunity to allow those relations to continue and flourish needs to be a top priority for managers. It will be awkward for all involved if some stabilization is lost. A plan for changing relationships should be carefully thought through and implemented to allow productivity to continue unabated. Involve people heavily in building new stabilized relationships. Ask them how to make the new relationship(s) work. Another thing…keep the stabilized relationships appropriately watered and fertilized.
7. Changed or unchanged work tasks. This issue was around before the pandemic but it went to warp speed as the pandemic unfolded. As managers deal with each change project it is important to keep skill requirements front and center. The unchanged ones will continue along their merry way. The changed ones have an important consideration. People must have the knowledge or receive training so that the changed taks will continue uninterrupted. This can be a one-on-one training or a live training class or an line learning opportunity. Just make sure the training happens, managers!
Careful attention to these initial issues in change management during (and after) the pandemic will provide managers considerable wherewithal to successfully launch each change project as it comes along. Remember that empathy may be your most important personal quality for the above 7 items to be handled successfully.