Today’s work place is constantly undergoing “change” of some sort or another. There are multiple projects and initiatives underway, new products and processes being tested, ongoing regulations that need to be embraced and monitored, and technological advancements that enable us to do more with less faster.
"Managing Change in Today’s Fast Paced Workplace" was the topic of discussion at a very special event hosted by Food for Tots in Markham designed to examine the concept of how companies effectively manage change while maintaining and cultivating a positive culture in light of our dynamic and ever-evolving work environment.
A very interesting company, our Host - Food for Tots - was founded in 1993 and is a leading children’s food provider offering affordable, high quality meals and snacks for those attending day care and child care centres and schools in and around the City of Toronto, and Regions of York, Durham, Peel, Halton and Simcoe. With an engaged team of 60 employees it is amazing to note that they are currently serving over 4 million meals annually!
When it comes to sharing and learning from each other, participants in our session were very fortunate to have had an excellent training session on Change Management delivered by their Human Resource Manager – Denise Miedzinski. Some excellent examples throughout our discussion were shared by our speaker and by our guests attending.
We spoke about the speed of change and the differences between “strategy”, “transition” and “change”. We also discussed the importance of finding people who are able to cope with change and the types of questions that you might ask or probe for in an interview to determine their ability to do so. And we tried to determine the critical factors that would enable success and how we might mitigate, manage resistance.
“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.” – R. D. Laing
Some highlights from the presentation included the following:
What is changing in our organizations?
• Marathon effect – we need to be cognizant of the fact that oftentimes Managers and Owners have already “ran the race” and employees are just starting and only in the first km
• The way Owners/Managers feel about change reflects as well so if they are positive then that perspective will resonate with others
• Keeping everyone informed is important and lack of communication could lead to major challenges
What is changing in your life?
If you look at everything going on in your life from a physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, psychological, financial, etc. standpoint – we need to understand that the more change there is happening around us, the less resilient we are and as such, it is harder to cope with new elements that come into play in our lives either through work or personally.
We agreed that for the most part we are very good at implementing effective strategic leadership and maybe somewhat at implementing successful change but we really struggle with leading our people through the transition process.
There was some great discussion around the whole concept of “change” versus “transition” and why it’s important to recognize that these are two very different elements especially since business moves so fast. Change is an outcome or a decision something that happens to people, even if they don’t agree with it. Transition is internal – it’s the feelings that accompany change. Change can happen very quickly, while transition usually occurs more slowly.
We were asked to consider the iceberg – transition is the unknown beyond the surface – change is what we can see.
Our speaker shared her insights regarding general reactions to change – including the importance of the pessimist’s role, highlighted why people resist change in general and how we might manage that, underscored that conflict is normal and that we need to be as transparent as possible to be successful in helping people cope accordingly and of course, everyone is different in how they adapt.
Our Speaker shared some great thoughts around how to manage resistance:
- Body language speaks volumes
- Language, culture issues – get information translated
- People love individual compliments
- If possible, make room for people to participate in the planning of the change
- Leave choices or decisions for others to make within the design of the change effort
- Provide a clear picture of the change and its implications
- Make it easy for people to access information
- Provide plenty of warning to avoid surprises
- Demonstrate your own commitment through your behaviour
- Make the standards clear
- Identify and reward early successes
- Show people that you have the confidence in their ability to bring about the change effort
- Allow legitimate expression of feelings or nostalgia for the past
- Show and encourage excitement about future opportunities
The 10 essentials to ensure that organizational change works:
1. There is a solid foundation for the change
2. Communication is both excessive and effective
3. Significant attention is given to transition management
4. Middle and lower management levels are truly engaged
5. Senior leaders are pulling together
6. No “old guard” factor exists
7. The change plan is clear and understandable
8. People know what is expected of them
9. All changes are coordinated and prioritized
10. Old habits are not getting the way
Our Roundtable Networking topics married nicely with our focus for the day and there was considerable discussion with respect to the types of “change” we are experiencing. We also connected on:
• Change in general
• Going paperless
• Recognizing wins
• ERP/Lean implementation
• Multiple hats and simultaneous management
• Engagement and Motivation
One of the books that was recommended for reading included: Who Moved My Cheese, Spencer Johnson, 1998 (which is also available via You-Tube Video - https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=who+moved+my+cheese&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=1BFA8AEBF7FE3D0C861A1BFA8AEBF7FE3D0C861A
“Committed, and Proud of It”, Susan Bourette, Globe and Mail Supplement, April 5th, 2013
“Five Ways to Retain Employees Forever”, David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott, Harvard Business Review – HBR Blog Network, November 12th, 2012 – http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/11/five_ways_to_retain_employees.html?utm...
“Make the Most of Your Young Employees”, Baker’s Journal, February 27, 2013
Leading Change – What Works & What Doesn’t, Harvard Business Review, Winter 2014
Very, very special thanks to our Host and our Speaker for such an awesome overview on Change Management and an excellent plant tour and to all those who participated in this Special EMC Food Sector Event!!
All the best as always!
Bren de Leeuw, Director - EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - bdeleeuw .org - 519-372-6009
EMC receives funding under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.