Overcoming Barriers to Change

Research has shown that the best way to get the senior managers at all levels interested in the change initiatives is by engaging them and seeking their buy-in for the change management process. Studies have proved that the managers in the upper echelons buy into the change from a strategic perspective where the accent is on performance and hence radical or disruptive change is seen as part and parcel of an organizations development.

Managers at the middle level can be made to see the value inherent in change and hence they can be brought on board. The frontline managers’ views and inputs can be sought and thereby their cooperation and participation in the change obtained. These are the broad outlines and the following detailed sets of approaches can be pursued as well.

Make Them the Hero

By making the managers the change drivers and change initiators is often the best way of securing their buy-in. The point here is that by getting the managers to be the ones who are implementing change and by giving them centre stage, it is possible to secure their participation.

By definition, senior managers are highly capable, motivated and ambitious. By making them the stars of the change process, their innate abilities can be harnessed to the benefit of the organization. It is often better to have a close association with the senior managers to achieve the desired results.

Show them the potential of Change

By selling change and the value of such change to the organizations and themselves the senior managers can be persuaded to accept change. The point to note is that senior managers must be told what their role in the post change scenario would be and by making them see themselves in the future vision, they can be made to play a key part in the change management.

As has been mentioned earlier, if the benefits of the change are explained and by persuading that the change does not involve downsizing or other reduction in roles and responsibilities, the senior managers can be expected to be partners rather than resisters in the change management process.

Painting the Alternatives

This is the stick part of the carrot and stick approach wherein senior managers are told of the urgent need for change and by indicating to them what the consequences for themselves and the organization would be if the change does not succeed. By painting harsh alternative scenarios like declining market share and repercussions of layoffs and downsizing if the change does not succeed would make the senior managers realize the flip side of resistance. In this way, they can be persuaded to accept the business realities behind the change process.

Involving Them in the Change

By adopting a “hands on” approach that would involve “all hands” and including all the stakeholders, senior managers can be brought on board. The point is that by adopting an inclusive approach and giving a sense of ownership to the senior managers and taking their inputs and feedback would ensure that the key aspect of “engagement” is achieved.

The key to senior manager participation in the change initiatives is through engagement and only by communicating clearly the benefits of change and by positing the alternatives would it be possible to engage with senior managers. A suitable narrative of the changes and the impact that they have on the senior managers must be communicated to all levels and there must be a process in place to bring on board as many managers as possible.

Personality clashes and power politics can be addressed by consensual approaches to decision making and by adopting a carrot and stick approach as described above.


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Change Management