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Managing Change Effectively

Paul Hevesy, Vice President - Organizational Effectiveness, Stanley Black & Decker

Change is good. That’s what we’re told anyway. Mostly by leaders who are trying to convince us (and themselves) into accepting the changes happening all around us in today’s business environment.

But is it? Is all change good?

Maybe it’s better to say, Change is inevitable. Hard to dispute that these days. So how leaders best adopt the inevitable change that seems to be coming more quickly than in the past is a critical skill to build in the 2020s.

Change can rip you from a role you love and were half-way through transforming a team and place you in a totally new function starting from scratch. Change can completely upend your strategy and force you to start over. Change can also create all kinds of new opportunities you never thought possible and allow you to build experiences you otherwise would not have been able to get.

What change cannot do is change you. Only you can change you. And if you are leader of people, how you approach change when it comes, will form the roadmap of how your team approaches change.

So what? Well, over the years I’ve learned a few things that, perhaps, are worth sharing.

First, hold onto your current situation more loosely today than yesterday. That always helps. I don’t mean don’t have passion or ignore your drive to succeed. I just mean recognized it likely will change before you think it will or should, so holding a bit more lightly to your current role will enable you to embrace the inevitable change that comes.

Second, prepare for the inevitable. With change comes opportunity. Often times for more responsibility or completely new experiences. It will be easier to make those moves as a leader if you have prepared for it. The best way to prepare for it? Always be building your succession plan and make sure you have time in your schedule to coach and develop someone on your team to take your place. I’ve learned that when I am confident someone on my team can fill my current role, I’m much less resistant to change.

"how you approach change when it comes, will form the roadmap of how your team approaches change."

Third, organizations need optimistic leaders who can adjust quickly, take on new challenges and find the good in every situation. So being the kind of leader who jumps at the opportunity to take on a new team or build a new function or rebuild something broken will inevitably find new and interesting opportunities to tackle. Which is why traditional career pathing doesn’t always work anymore. Many successful leaders who adopt change quickly have very non-traditional career paths that make them invaluable to any organization.

And finally, the sooner you stop talking about what a particular change means to you as a leader, the sooner you start to focus on your team and your path to success. Change can be hard, especially if a change throws you out of a job (that’s a totally different topic), but if a change in your role hits you unexpectedly this year, remember to not complain about it. Take it in and then start looking for the opportunities the change will present. Because the one thing I can promise you about change is that it will always present some great opportunities for those willing to quickly embrace it.

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