Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Offering a unique value proposition as an employee 25: change management and other specialty work situations and contexts

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on September 23, 2013

This is my twenty fifth posting to a series on offering defining value as an employee, and on presenting yourself as the answer to problems faced while doing so (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 311-334 for Parts 1-24.)

I wrote in the title of this posting, that it is about change management and “specialty” work situations and contexts, and I begin it by stressing that one word. A great deal of what goes into good management and leadership practices is broadly applicable and even generic in nature. But management and leadership best practices always involve and include at least some customization to meet the specific context that they would be carried out in, and call for the creative and open minded flexibility to tailor approaches and methods to the specific business and its contexts and needs. And some types of management and leadership contexts can be selected out as fitting their own basic, recurring categorical patterns where they share a same set of specialized management and leadership needs, for style and approach taken. I have written quite a few times now in this blog about change management and come back to it again here in this context, as a perhaps quintessential example of a specialty category workplace that calls for its own special categorical types of management and leadership skills. And I center this posting around an interpersonal perspective and from the fundamentals.

• Effective management and leadership are built from effective communications skills, and from demonstrated capacity to both speak and present convincingly, and to listen actively. These must be two-way communications if a would-be leader is to actively connect with those they would lead, so as to involve them and convince them to want to follow.
• And most of the specialty requirements that go into making an effective change management manager or leader stem from the commonly recurring patterns and issues that open up to view when effectively communicating in this type of context.
• Businesses that face a need for change management often share a range of features and challenges in common,
• As far as technology gaps and obsolescence in methods for providing what they offer to their markets,
• Obsolescence and even irrelevance of what they would offer there, and certainly when compared with what their more effective competitors are offering and when the price points that they can sell at are considered, and
• Organizational challenges such as dysfunctional silo wall formations and a failure to maintain a single, clear and compelling organization-wide vision or strategy.
• Ultimately every business in need of change management, regardless of industry or marketplace worked in, faces essentially the same types of cash flow and reserves challenges, with incoming revenue and reserves trending downward and expenses at best just holding steady.
• An effective change management manager or leader has to be able to address these and similar technical skills challenges, and both for their generic business qualities and features and for their industry and business-specific details.
• But core to making any of that work is in effectively communicating, and using that to engage and enlist participation in any program of change and correction attempted.

So in a fundamental sense, this posting is about the interpersonal and the individual communications and morale challenges that a change management leader faces when stepping into this workplace context, and as they seek to break the inertia and fear of change to rebuild towards recovery.

• Hands-on skills in dealing with the task-specific challenges faced, and in working with and leading more specialist employees and colleagues are essential here in both defining what has to be done and in following through and tracking performance and results.
• But first and foremost, a change management manager and leader has to know how to connect. When change management fails, it is not generally because the technical goals pursued were wrong. It is because a basis of communication and trust building that the more technical work has to be built from if it to work, could not be achieved. And a critical threshold of effective buy-in and supportive participation could not be achieved.

That is very important – this is not about getting everyone to buy in and supportively participate in making the right change happen, and even with its perhaps challenging short term downsides. This is about getting enough people actively, supportively engaged and helping to create this change and it is about identifying those who cannot or will not do so – and for them this is about knowing why. And where their concerns can and should be addressed, this is about doing so to expand the groups that actively support this endeavor. And at the very least, it is about limiting the impact of those who for whatever reason would simply seek to derail this effort.

That, I add, does not always mean dismissing and downsizing, and I find myself thinking of change management consulting for a family owned business as I write this, where that is not always possible, even in principle. But it does mean getting the right people into the right positions and actively supporting them as they in turn communicate and engage and involve with the people who they manage and lead.

I have been writing this in terms of change management as a specialty workplace example, but the basic principles that I write of here apply more widely too. The key there is in knowing where generic, standard approaches would work best and for their basic familiarity if nothing else, and where a more specialized and even idiosyncratic-to-the-business and business context approach might serve better.

I am going to turn in my next series installment to consider working in and leading in nonprofits, not for profits and for profits with their similarities and differences. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at its first Guide directory page. I am also listing this posting in Nonprofits and Social Networking.

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