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 Spaghetti-against-the wall approach to change

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger

In any list of the top five issues for HR, change management will be in there. Management has always been about the managing change as organisations strive and struggle to keep up in a fast changing business environment. And that means managers need the support of HR because change will inevitably involve employees doing things differently.

Rewriting JD’s, adapting Person Specifications and changing Terms and Conditions of Employment or rather bring about these changes without causing a major disruption to business requires skilful consultation, negotiation and persuasion. It requires a level of trust between employees (and their reps) and senior management which is not always present.

Whatever, change will happen but will it be incremental, a smooth transition, negotiated through persuasion and compromise or will it be swift, dramatic, imposed, non negotiable and probably turbulent. The latter is all too frequently the preferred model of organisations in a hurry. It may be that dramatic change is necessary because the organisation has become stuck in it ways, using out of date processes that make it inefficient and uncompetitive. It may be that the failure to address issues in the past means the situation has become urgent. And it is likely that the changes will be unpopular with employees. However the board see this as an adapt and service scenario.

This would be a tricky enough situation but often it’s the culmination of a prolonged period of uncertainty, changes in direction, shifts in priorities that result from a quick turn over of senior managers each with different ideas on how to move the organisation forward. This will undoubtedly have involved reorganisations and restructuring, redundancies, redeployments , a management cull, a major outsourcing exercise and possibly a merger or at least talk of one.

New ideas with their consequent changes in working arrangements come thick and fast, their are more pilots than at Heathrow airport and every manager appears to be on one or more project group. It’s an exciting period of experimentation, innovation and risk taking or an anxious period of uncertainty, change for change sake, where professional values are undermined and the  organisation moral compass toss aside. This is the let’s see what sticks spaghetti-against-the-wall approach to change.

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