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Effective leadership strategies in change management

Evolving business climate includes vast transformations in the perception of organizational leadership, managerial functions, and human resource strategy. Corporate management faces more challenges in the form of changing corporate relations and increasing global influences that have set a new pattern in managing people and businesses. The traditional autocratic leadership style in management has given to a more humane and softer leadership approach that is based on employee empowerment and evolution of self managed teams.

This provides the employees with the authority and responsibility to respond to customer requests. An ess...

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...ential pre-requisite for such leadership practices is ongoing training and development workshops for the employees that assist them in analyzing situations and resolving problems at the operational front. The ability to manage changes within the organization is essential for successful implementation of business expansion strategies. Effects of globalization, advances in technology, and mushrooming multinational companies directly impact the business environment.

The IBM study on Making Change Work observes that effective leadership, employee involvement, open and timely communication, corporate culture that motivates and promotes change, effective training programs, efficient organization structure, and performance incentives are some of the critical factors that assist in successful change management. Cooke (2008) emphasizes that the softer touch to change management in the form of participative leadership practice can lend a supportive hand to the whole exercise. “Business might need a hard nose, but it also requires a soft heart to make change happen.

A successful change leader knows which organ to use and when” (Cooke, 2008). “Change leaders with participative leadership styles are more likely to have successful projects. A strong culture of empowerment and delegation of decision making power distributes responsibility for change throughout the organization” (IBM, 2008). The IBM report emphasizes that the leaders should set the direction of change by establishing clearly defined goals and vision that has to be communicated across all levels and “dedicating the right resources to the change effort.

” The next step should employee engagement through the practice of employee empowerment that allows the workforce to be involved in the change process. A two way communication is most critical in the organizational change process. This helps in building trust and reducing resistance to change by communicating strategies and gaining commitment from the workforce. Improved communication can help in motivating employees, reduce employee resistance, and pursue change mechanism effectively.

But it needs to be understood that the communication process is not simply conveying the message. It is a two-way process that needs interaction between the two parties. The management and the employees need to interact on how the plan is going to take shape and what are best possible ways to minimize risks and hurdles in the process. Giving the employees a chance to participate in management decisions not only makes them feel valuable but also ensures their support and enthusiasm in the whole process. Another vital ingredient for successful communication process is consistency.

The management policies need to be consistent in their approach to instill trust and confidence in the employees. The whole purpose of selling change to the employees will be lost if the employees do not have confidence or trust in their company management. It should be noted that effective communication needs clarity, consistency, and reinforcement. Effective communication includes various strategies that can create an impact on the team. “The leader must take a point of highlighting the successes within a team, using charts or graphs, with little presentations and fun ideas” (Fenton, 1990).

Growing complexities within the business environment has created greater need for knowledge and understanding of the operating environment that affects the profitability and growth of the organization. Evolving business climate includes vast transformations in the perception of organizational leadership, managerial functions, and human resource strategy. Corporate management faces more challenges in the form of changing corporate relations and increasing global influences that have set a new pattern in managing people and businesses.

The traditional autocratic leadership style in management has given to a more humane and softer leadership approach that “empowers self managed teams to manage themselves” (Nickels, 2008). This provides the employees with the authority and responsibility to respond to customer requests. An essential pre-requisite for such leadership practices is ongoing training and development workshops for the employees that assist them in analyzing situations and resolving problems at the operational front. A company in order to harness its strengths and core competencies to gain competitive edge must be able to identify them.

One of the primary challenges facing the recruiter is to identify the key skills and competencies required by the organization to execute its tasks and objectives. A vital aspect of core competency development within organizations relates to training and development of employees and effective implementation of knowledge management systems. These strategies are complemented by adopting coaching and mentoring strategies that have significant contribution in building the organizational competencies. Companies often use coaching and mentoring strategy in difficult situations where the employee behaviour affects the team and company performance.

Adaptability to change is also seen as a major hurdle in successful implementation of new processes. Coaching concentrates on an individual development that will directly contribute to organization development. The basic need for coaching and mentoring arises from the fact that the companies must re-think and revise their operational strategies to adapt to the ever-changing world of business to keep their cash registers ringing. In such situations the company cannot afford to hire people and ignore their potentials. They need to be developed and adapted to changes in the company for better company performance.

This also includes fulfillment of personal objectives in terms of growth and opportunities. Mentoring is seen as partnership strategy in today’s world where the mentor is happy to guide his protege in the desired direction. It is mutually beneficial relationship that where both the parties gain in terms of recognition and satisfaction for the mentor and fulfillment of expectations for the mentored. The employees need to be motivated and inspired to accept the changes. The organization should provide necessary training opportunities to equip them with required skills for the new system to work effectively.

It is the human resource that forms the most valuable asset to the company and this should be communicated to the existing workforce. The accomplishment of this goal will require a dynamic leader in the company who can steer the change process to its successful outcome. Effective mentoring and coaching strategy is gaining prominence in most organizations today providing grounds for a fruitful management employee relationship sharing the same goals and vision for the company. The scope of this strategy includes teaching people how to apply, share knowledge, and transfer of skills within the department.

It encourages self-awareness and flexibility to cope better with changes. Nickels in his book Understanding Business concludes that various researches conducted have found that employee participation in decisions is highly effective in increasing performance and productivity besides increasing individual job satisfaction. “Many progressive organizations are highly successful at using democratic style of leadership that values traits such as flexibility, good listening skills, and empathy” (Nickels, 2008).

The author emphasizes that a leader’s most important role is to transform the way the company does business so that its more effective and efficient that translates to getting things done in a better way using fewer resources to accomplish the same objectives (Nickels, 2008). One of the tasks of managers is to devise strategies that enable the employees to achieve the organizational goals through appropriate training and development programs and implementation of knowledge management systems. Employee training and development programs have a positive influence on organizational performance and productivity.

It helps in developing required skills and motivates employees to deliver their best. The positive reinforcement is attributed to the general feeling that the organization cares about their employees. Managers are increasingly realising the role training and development can play in pursuing new strategies and enhancing employee productivity. The key responsibility of a sponsor is to encourage employee growth and career development through training and assisting them to achieve their personal goals.

“To motivate and retain key employees, organizations, must show them that they can realize their ambitions inside, as well as outside, the company” (Holbeche, 2005). Organizations that provide a positive work climate through management policies that encourage employee talent and skills development are found to be better adjusted to face operational challenges and meet increased employee satisfaction levels. IBM is one institution that has always emphasized the importance of employee training in meeting the organizational goals and performance targets.

The company has a comprehensive staff training and development practice across all levels of management and executives. “Implementing an approach to employee development that adapts and evolves with the changing business landscape has played a key role in supporting IBM’s growth and transformation over the years” (Dominic Tong, General Manager, IBM China/Hong Kong, 2008). The existing business environment has increased the need for creativity and proactive behaviour from employees.

Businesses require skills for doing the job and in current market conditions advancing technology at rapid pace makes it imperative to learn new skills and upgrade one’s knowledge to adapt to changing market conditions. Training and development programs provide the employees with the opportunity to learn or upgrade their skills according to the business needs and requirements. This has made learning and personal development programs for managers and staff highly critical within an organization. Managers and leaders play a critical role in assisting employee growth and development initiatives.

“Managers can unlock an individual’s ability and willingness to perform at high levels in many ways – for instance, by translating long-term goals into step by step plans, clearly stating expectations and holding people accountable” (Holbeche, 2005). However, it is important that corporate training programs are linked to strategic goals and objectives of the company. The business leaders should take the responsibility of creating a workforce that is well equipped to support the organizations’ growth strategies and meet the challenges of working in a global environment (Tong, 2008).

Leaders can enable the organization to achieve improved performance levels that contribute to better change management strategy. Ensuring high levels of performance within the organization requires active participation of both management and individuals in the workforce in implementing tasks and objectives. “Managers can unlock an individual’s ability and willingness to perform at high levels in many ways – for instance, by translating long-term goals into step by step plans, clearly stating expectations and holding people accountable” (Holbeche, 2005).

Organizations like Lockheed Martin has designed its change management program around three core competencies that include open communication, taking preventive actions to potential show-stoppers, and responding to existing needs rather than ignoring issues (Carter et al. , 2007). Among other organizations that have implemented such initiatives include Motorola’s leadership development program that enabled managers to develop competencies and behaviors that promoted customer focus and enhanced performance.

It is imperative that the employees identify with the company goals and objectives and this onus lies entirely with the company leaders to communicate these effectively. These need to be articulated in an effective and dramatic manner to create enthusiasm within the workforce. To induce a strong belief in the company’s goals, the leaders need to believe in these goals foremost. The crucial task faced by the leaders is to build a shared vision. All the employees need to share the company’s vision and long-term objectives to meet them successfully.

Leadership begins with a vision that is shared by all the team members. A transformational leader will be able to articulate the vision in clear practical terms that the others can relate to. The goals need to be tangible and challenging enough for the individuals to buy it. The role of the transformational leader is to challenge and motivate the team members and gain their commitment to the cause. The leader should entice response on how these long-term goals can be broken down to short-term objectives. The next step would be to plan the course of action and time frame within which the objectives are met.

Involving the team members in such strategic planning not only creates high level of enthusiasm but also increases the motivation level of the individuals. Leaders must project a clear, compelling business vision and provide the employees with consistent feedback on where the organization stands relative to that vision. Conclusion In today’s rapid changing business scenario it is essential for an organization to set the right direction and adapt to the changes as and when required. This is possible only when the organization takes step to train and upgrade the employee skills to meet the anticipated changes.

An organization can prove efficient only when its workforce respond quickly to anticipated changes and not fear it. The transformational leadership takes charge of the situation and builds trust among the members. Armed with the trust of their members the leaders can effectively steer them towards new avenues of learning that addresses new challenges. The requirement for learning and development is significant to support and enable the employees at all levels to embrace change and increase their capabilities.

A structured approach to training of employees entails bringing learning to the work instead of taking the employee to the learning. Discussion rooms and learning centers at workplace facilitates employee learning in addition to trainers within the premises to address specific training programs. References: 1. Fenton, John. 1990. 101 ways to boost your business performance 2. Mullins, L. J. 1999. Management and organizational behavior. 5th edition. Copyright Financial Times management. 3. Credaro, Amanda. 2001. Innovation and change in education.

Accessed on June 25th 2009 from http://www. geocities. com/koalakid_1999/UNIVERSITY/change. HTM 4. Nickels, William G. 2008. Understanding Business. Chapter 7: Management, Leadership, and Employee Empowerment. McGraw Hill Higher Education. 8th edition 5. Palmer, Ian and Hardy, Cynthia. 2000. Thinking about Management: implications of organizational debates for practice. Sage Publishing. Pages 11-34. 6. Okes, Duke and Westcott, Russell T. 2001. Certified quality manager handbook. Second edition. Pages 29-30. 7. Dimitriades, Z. 2001.

Empowerment in total quality: designing and implementing effective employee decision making strategies. Accessed on June 24th 2009 from http://www. asq. org/pub/qmj/past/vol8_issue2/qmjv8i2dimitriades. pdf 8. Heller, Robert. 2005. Employee empowerment: management giving power to people. Accessed on June 24th 2009 from http://www. thinkingmanagers. com/management/employee-empowerment. php 9. Wilson, David C. 2000. A strategy of change – concepts and controversies in the management of change. Thomson Learning. 10. IBM. Making Change Work. Accessed on June 24th 2009

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