Learn how to manage change profiles

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This is the second in a series on managing change.

Last month, we discussed developing a transition plan to manage change —Step 1 of the process. Step 2 is  learning how to identify and manage the change profiles of the people involved.

Obviously, people are the critical element for the success of any transition plan. So, it’s important to learn how to recognize and manage the four primary “change profiles” of the people involved. Not understanding these profiles can sabotage your transition plan.

Here is a brief summary of the four change profiles:

Change leaders

Change leaders have the skills to guide or direct others through transition. They have the “vision” or clarity   of direction needed to get from point A to point B.

The ideal change leader has two critical capabilities: vision and execution. “Execution leadership” requires discipline to make things happen. And, he can inspire a culture where others become committed to making things happen. Without execution leadership, the discipline and the culture, a gap will occur between promises and commitments made — and the results achieved.

Change navigators

Change navigators have the ability to determine and execute the best method to get from point A to point B. Navigators have solid people skills that enable them to work with others to accomplish the desired results. They possess excellent communication skills to help others understand the purpose and desired outcome of the transition plan. They also can clarify each person’s responsibilities. Navigators are the critical component needed to achieve the desired results.

Change sympathizers

People who are change sympathizers are “all talk and no action.” They appear to be committed to the transition plan, but won’t take any responsibility for achieving the desired results. They sit on the sidelines and only take a position once the likely outcome has been determined. Classic sympathizer statements include: “I told you that wouldn’t work,” or “I was committed from the very beginning because I knew it would work.”

Change sympathizers should not be given major responsibility in the execution of a transition plan. If for some reason, they do have responsibility, they must be held accountable. 

Change resistors

These are the real roadblocks in the execution of a transition plan. They don’t agree with the desired results and will sabotage the efforts of others. They tend to be devout traditionalists who want to remain in their “comfort zone” and often cannot tell you exactly why they disagree. 

The best method of dealing with change resistors is to communicate the transition plan, allow for feedback, and then advise them of the decision to move ahead while limiting their role in the execution of the plan. Dealing with change resistors isn’t easy. In most situations, trying to modify the behavior of a change resistor isn’t worth the time or effort. And, over time they will either quit or must be terminated.

Taking action

All of us have a bit of each change profile in us. But, hopefully, you will exhibit a fair degree of change leader and change navigator qualities. Recognizing and managing the change profiles for yourself and others will go a long way toward the successful execution of your transition plan.

Monte Hemenover is a dairy industry consultant and president of Avenues For Change, St. Louis, Mo.



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