Every organisation wants a succeeding culture

How to manage forced change

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Managing Change

We often talk about business change being planned or emergent. In recent weeks, due to the current health pandemic, we have seen a new way change happens, change is forced.

The Happy Manager [the-happy-manager.com] and many others cite ‘planned change‘ as moving from one state to another in a structured manner and ‘emergent change‘ as largely fluid, all pervasive and continuous. These are seen as the two most dominant types of change approaches.

I’d say we should now include another in the narrative, ‘forced change’.  This is a form of emergent change many of us have experienced recently, where it is accepted that change has to happen quickly, no question. It’s chaotic, unstructured and is a phase that must then transition into a more stable approach.

What do we need to do to manage this rapid change?

Identify the Leader/Senior Responsible Officer

There needs to be one responsible person, making decisions at a senior level, guiding the team and understanding the bigger picture.

Analyse the change

We still need to ask the same 3 questions to analyse the change

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to get to?
  • How do we get there?

This will typically mean getting the right people (a task force) in a room to brainstorm as quickly as possible.  There’s no space to wait weeks to find a suitable spot in diaries, for making this pretty or getting sign off.  It also requires absolute Trust from the leaders that the right people will be in the room to make decisions.   

Build the Team

The output from the brainstorming session will give a good idea of the people needed to drive the changes needed.  Normal hierarchy may need to go out the window here as the focus is on the skills needed rather than who has managerial positions.  You need skilled people who can think differently, think fast, mobilise teams, think end to end, work as a team and are agile.

Empower the team to drive and make decisions

To make this work well roles and responsibilities should be made clear from the outset along with formal authority to make the decisions needed to progress activities.  Give enough space for people to drive and progress.  Diarise regular check-in sessions for leaders to provide updates, raise issues or request assistance.  It’s important to create a safe and comfortable space for people to ask questions in order for them to progress.  Find a way to keep an open door for continued conversation without filling the diary with meetings.

Plan for a transition to sustainable change

It is clear that working at a pace required to facilitate forced and rapid change is not sustainable so it is important to plan for time to effectively manage how this transitions into organised change.

As I write, I am consulting within the Health Sector, within Digital, helping to drive and manage the changes that have been forced upon us due to Coronavirus. 

Related Posts

Helping people through change

Helping people through change

As a change agent the way to help people through change is to first acknowledge that people go through a set of emotions that affect how they respond to the change. It is also important to recognise that most won’t ‘just get on with it’ without some level of...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest