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Managing transitions – a key management skill

 

We can say that changes are a constant thing within an organisation. They are initiated either from daily operations or strategic projects. But for changes to happen, all management levels need to be involved in the transition.

Unfortunately, managing transition is not a skill companies are looking for when they fulfill a management position. For the last 30 years, many experts have been promoted or hired in a management role without evaluating their management skills. In many cases, the company thought they would save money by having an expert do 20% management activities and 80% expert tasks. In fact, managing a team is a full time job !

The management team is responsible to organize work, fulfill all administrative related work and accompany employees in their development, their career path and their adoption process. In the first management books, we could read that a manager had to « act as a good father ». Well, this meant taking decision for the company’s interest and accompany employees as you do with your family members but, without the emotions involved.

Think of all the things parents do to prepare a kid for his first school day. Most of the time, they start one year and a half before it happens. When we think about it, all important events in life, good or bad, there are people around to help prepare or make the transition. For example, when someone has a car accident and is injured, family and many specialists accompany the person until balance is regained.

Why would it be any different at work ? How can someone imagine it could work without accompaniment ? As humans, accompaniment is required to maintain or regain balance. So companies’ management teams should think about this because, a person in equilibrium better performs thus better contributes to the organization’s success.

After many years of consulting, I can say I saw many companies hiring a change manager for a project to manage change with the explicit rules of not involving managers too much…

A project team is responsible to provide all material and tools to facilitate transition, but the management team is responsible to accompany their employees during the transition.

How can someone think that one or even a team of 5 change managers will be able to accompany 8 000 employees in their process ? Unfortunately, many do think that way.

To make a change happen and last in time, employees must accept and adopt the change which means integrating the changes in their routine. This will never happen if the management team is not involved.