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Handling Change Management Right the First Time
As business leaders rush to implement cost-saving, productivity-boosting measures to survive the recession, daily news coverage shows that very few are thinking about the unintended consequences their change management actions will have on the relationships with those they count on most. But change management in any form sends powerful messages to key stakeholders, including customers, employees, business partners and investors in terms of whom and what an organization believes are most important.
You must consider in advance not only your long-term strategy and growth path, but also who and what you’ll need to get there.
In this article, we share how business leaders can handle change management right the first time by avoiding common pitfalls, such as breaching trust with key stakeholders, taking on a “victim” versus “owner” mentality, losing sight of customer-and employee-centricity and creating critical talent deficiencies. By mobilizing mid-level managers, adapting your decision-making style and recognizing the ever-increasing importance of focused leadership, your organization can increase its chances of being among those who’ve done change management right the first time.
Building the Trust Bridge for Effective Change Management
The epidemic of low trust among workers is well documented. Just recently, for example, the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer found that trust in U.S. business dropped to a dismal 38 percent – the lowest in the Barometer’s history, even lower than following Enron’s collapse.
For the business leader poised to make significant organizational changes, this means you are starting at a disadvantage. The majority of employees have already determined your words alone cannot be believed. Rather, they will want to see proof in the form of congruency between your words and actions before they give their support to whatever it is you’re selling. In other words, if your company is cash strapped and you’re pushing teams to drastically reduce costs quickly, employees will want to see that you too are making personal sacrifices to cut spending.
Consider the public relations fall-out when the auto executives went to Congress to ask for public funds to plug serious immediate cash shortfalls and each arrived in Washington, DC, in a separate corporate jet. To them, this was the standard course of business. But to the public, it reeked of insincerity and, thus, fanned the flames of mistrust.
While most of your decisions and actions are not quite so visible (nor dramatic) as this example, they are clear indicators to employees about what you truly believe and intend. More likely than not, you’re facing tough decisions about when and where to reduce costs. If your organization plans to go through a layoff, for example, the method chosen to select those affected – as well as the way you carry out the effort – will send a clear message to the employees left behind.
Unfortunately, many companies are not using their business process improvement teams to help construct an execution strategy and are instead resorting to last in first out (LIFO) or first in first out (FIFO) approaches. Not only does this fail to demonstrate a clear line of sight to where these leaders are taking the business, the message to employees is clear: People are costs, not assets.On the other hand, smart organizations are taking the approach of reducing unprofitable teams and keeping good players. Most importantly, they are linking their downsizing efforts to their core business strategies whenever they communicate with employees about the process.
Change management bottom line: During times of increased turmoil, every major decision is a signal to employees of your strategic intent. No matter how big or small, every decision is a chance to show the direction you are taking the organization. Without trust, the cost of sustaining relationships is steep. As trust grows in leadership, employees’ defensive postures fade and productivity soars.
She’s the boss
Business has traditionally been and to a certain extent still is “a boy’s game”. Less than 6 per cent of executive management positions in America and European companies are held by women, and of the Fortune 500 only four have a female CEO.
Yet in Britain one in three new businesses are started up by women, and according to John Naisbitt and Patricia Auburdene, authors of “Megatrends”, since 1980 the number of self-employed women has increased twice as fast as the number of self-employed men.
The Glass Ceiling Syndrome
Is it just a case of women whose career progress has been blocked by their male colleagues – the so-called “glass ceiling syndrome”- being forced to set up their own businesses? Or do women share specific management qualities which somehow serve them better in self-employment? As many as forty per cent of start-ups fold within their first two years, but the failure rate of those run by women is substantially lower than that. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that though male bosses tend to be reluctant to promote women, male bank managers seem only too happy to finance their businesses.
The Roddick Phenomenon
Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop Empire, is the perfect example of the female entrepreneur, with her company growing from zero to $470 million in its first fifteen years. Perhaps the secret of her success was caution. Rather than push ahead with the purchasing of new shops, Roddick got herself into franchising – the cheapest way to expand a business while keeping overheads down. Caution, forward planning and tight budgeting seem to be more female characteristics than male. They are also the blueprint for success when launching a new company. The recent Internet boom allowed women like Martha Lane Fox to set up the massively successful web travel agency lastminute.com. In cyberspace nobody cares what sex you are.
When women join an existing company, it’s a different story. Less ruthlessly individualistic in their approach to business, women are more sensitive to the feelings of the group or team in which they work. They are generally more cooperative than competitive, less assertive, and less prepared to lead from the front. Though they usually manage their time better than men and may seem even work harder, they are much less likely than their male counterparts to take risks. And, above all, it is risk-taking that makes corporate high fliers. As one male director put it: “I’m not paid to make the right decisions. I’m just paid to make decisions.”
It’s an overgeneralization, of course, but it remains true that men will more readily take the initiative than women. The female style of management leans towards consensus and conciliation. Women seem to be better communicators than men – both more articulate and better listeners. And perhaps it is women’s capacity to listen which makes them particularly effective in people-oriented areas of business. In any mixed group of business people the ones doing most of the taking will almost certainly be the men. But perhaps the women will really be listening.
The New Achievers
It was predominantly men who led the hierarchical corporations of the nineties. But it may be women who achieve the most in the more democratic, people-centered years to come.
Mark Powell, Ron Martinez, Rosi Jilett, New Business Matters, Coursebook
Unit IX. Text A
Business ethics (also known as Corporate ethics) is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and business organizations as a whole. Applied ethics is a field of ethics that deals with ethical questions in many fields such as medical, technical, legal and business ethics.
Business Ethics is a normative and a descriptive discipline. As a corporate practice and a career specialization, the field is primarily normative. In academia descriptive approaches are also taken. The range and quantity of business ethical issues reflects the degree to which business is perceived to be at odds with non-economic social values. Historically, interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s, both within major corporations and within academia. For example, today most major corporate websites lay emphasis on commitment to promoting non-economic social values under a variety of headings (e.g. ethics codes, social responsibility charters). In some cases, corporations have redefined their core values in the light of business ethical considerations (e.g. BP's “beyond petroleum” environmental tilt).
Discussion on ethics in business is necessary because business can become unethical, and there are plenty of evidences as in today on unethical corporate practices. Even Adam Smith opined that “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public or in some contrivance to raise prices”. Business does not operate in a vacuum. Firms and corporations operate in the social and natural environment. By virtue of existing in the social and natural environment, business is duty bound to be accountable to the natural and social environment in which it survives. Irrespective of the demands and pressures upon it, business by virtue of its existence is bound to be ethical. Is this a fact or an opinion? There are at least two reasons: one, because whatever the business does affects its stakeholders and two, because every juncture of action has trajectories of ethical as well as unethical paths wherein the existence of the business is justified by ethical alternatives it responsibly chooses. One of the conditions that brought business ethics to the forefront is the demise of small scale, high trust and face-to-face enterprises and emergence of huge multinational corporate structures capable of drastically affecting everyday lives of the masses.
From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
Unit X. Text A
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