In this section, we are focusing on some of the roles a line manager has in terms of enabling change in organisations – change such as restructuring, or the development of new strategies, or mergers. We are not covering all of ‘change management’ – what we have included are practical tools that a line manager can use in order to understand, support and communicate change and its implications with a team.
How are the people you manage going to react to change?
There are two dimensions to be considered in terms of individual response to change:
1. Perceived potential impact (which can be positive or negative)
2. Energy of the response by the individual (which can be active or passive)
The impact of organisational change can be perceived as a loss of power or positional influence, or new opportunities for advancement and personal development.
The energy of the response is harder to predict because it depends on the individual’s perceptions of uncertainty and their attitude to risk. A greater potential perceived risk results in passive behaviour in some individuals, and an active response in others.
These two dimensions are illustrated in the graphic below, which also labels four categories of individual response:
As a line manager, it is useful to anticipate which of your team members you believe will fall into the different categories of response to change. You need to ask four questions:
1. Who is likely to respond actively to the change and see it as an opportunity? (Change Agents)
2. Who is likely to respond actively and see the change as a threat? (Resistors)
3. Who is likely to respond passively to the change and see it as an opportunity (Bystanders)
4. Who is likely to respond passively to the change and see it as a threat? (Traditionalists)
It is important to take action with the people who report to you, and move from perceived impact and expectations about reactions to addressing the reality of individual and team responses and use of energy. To do that you need, as the line manager, to help your team understand the change and be specific about implications and impact.
This page is based on The Managing Change Pocketbook, by Neil Russell-Jones Management Pocketbooks Ltd, 1999
Managing reactions to change
The line manager has the key role of supporting team members during change – including when the first rumours start. This is not a role that can be ‘left to the change team’. To carry out the role effectively, the line manager should first understand a proposed change and deal with personal reactions – and also be honest with the team if he or she does not ‘have all the answers’.
The model below describes the common stages of individual reaction to change, and also shows the activities the line manager can carry out to support the team
Comments are closed.