Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Managing Change in Associations – Part 2

I asked one of my mentors -- Barry Schapiro (bio below) to guest blog on association leadership.  Barry and I have known each other for more than 20 years.  Part 1 ran yesterday.  

People will resist change, even when you rationally point out how the change will benefit them. Are they crazy? Probably not. What you can count on is that change usually threatens certain personal needs that everyone has. Unless these needs are met, not a lot of business will get done.

We all share five basic needs :
  • To feel valued and respected 
  • To be heard and understood 
  • To be involved in decisions that affect us 
  • To trust others and be trusted 
  • To be supported without being usurped 

When these basic needs are addressed, we can move on to accomplish organizational objectives that benefit all the stakeholders.

Each need above can be paired with some specific actions on your part.
  • You can show that you value and respect your people by offering balanced feedback that is specific and sincere. 
  • You can listen carefully to what people say and ask questions to clarify their meaning. This includes employing the appropriate congruent body language. 
  • Involve people in decisions that affect them by asking for their input and suggestions, and whenever possible reach decisions by consensus, not by fiat. 
  • Become more trustworthy by being more transparent. Share your own thoughts, feelings, and rationale about what’s going on and about decisions and directions. Invite others to do the same, and avoid making snap judgments about what you hear. 
  • When someone needs help, offer to coach or train, but avoid doing the job for them. Taking over someone else’s responsibility is a blow to their self-esteem and doubles your own work load. 
The ideas above are simple to state, but often complex to initiate and carry out. Some models exist and you can try any or all of them. One that I like is the GE Workout (Dave Ulrich, et al, McGraw Hill 2002). It’s not the only one there is, but it’s generally well known and has a positive track record. Simply stated, Workout is an approach to building an organization that is perpetually innovative and stamps out bureaucracy. If that sounds like what you want, read the book, then find an outside facilitator to help make it happen. After one round, you might try it yourself, without the outside facilitator. The idea is get a neutral, third party who knows what he’s doing to start you off right, then move the program into your organization using your own people. 

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” 
-- John  F. Kennedy  

NOTE: Barry Schapiro MSW, ACSW, is the Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development at Workforce Solutions Group, a unit of St. Louis Community College. You can get in touch with Barry at Barry’s regular blog on leadership topics appears at . 

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