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How to Avoid Post Merger Identity Crisis Demand for deep, sustainable change in such organisations is being driven hard by forces coming from all directions.

By Pramod Parkar

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Chaos causes disruption and this has personal impact of change that affects people. The greater the disruption, the higher the level of resistance! Employees may oppose a move away from the status quo if they fear that change will have a detrimental effect on their security, personal finance, working relationships or level of responsibility, or simply because they do not have enough time to understand and learn about the change. Change is a deeply personal experience.

Within an organisation where there is a large change in the way the organisation has recently structured, the Leaders and change catalysts need to respond effectively and sensitively to employees' personal concerns and reactions to the chaos caused by the change,

Demand for deep, sustainable change in such organisations is being driven hard by forces coming from all directions. The competition, the regulation, technology, policy and culture etc. In our dynamic global economy, the customer expectations are creating an almost constant need for change!

While transformational change is difficult, disruptive and expensive, organisations are often faced with no real choice when the alternatives are standing still or putting faith in a superficial "quick fix' are even riskier options. A Clever strategy may not be enough.

"Resilience is a crucial characteristic of any successful business'

For many organisations "resilience' has a natural association with these kinds of scenarios. Managing processes, systems, networks and infrastructure going when things go wrong is critical. However, resilience is about much more than just business continuity and disaster recovery. It's a key factor in how an organisation's people respond to significant change events.

This is just as true when an organisation responds to external forces of change, like natural disaster and the similar.

Resilient organisations need resilient people?! The very nature of change is changing. A modern business and its people have to cope with an increasing number of economic, technological and organisational change processes, most of which are happening simultaneously.

Mergers, acquisitions, restructuring can cause significant disruption to individual performance, from employees on the front line to Board-level executives. Such dynamic movement can disrupt the performance of the workforce to such an extent, that the performance of the whole organisation suffers and the turbulence demands resilience!

What is resilience? Resilience is the ability to "bounce back' from a difficult or adverse situation. It's the quality that enables one person to respond well and thrive during the change process, while a colleague with apparently similar skills and experience struggles to cope. Resilience also helps people make sense of change more quickly, so they understand the impact on them and other people. At the same time, resilience helps people deal with multiple changes without being overwhelmed.

During any change process, people move from a current state (the way they work now) to a future state (how they will work in the future) via a "transition" state. It's the transition period that is most disruptive, changing the way people think, feel and behave. The process of change disrupts our sense of control and pushes us out of our comfort zone: it makes people feel uncertain, even incompetent.

What makes people resilient? Changefirst,UK has been working with people and organisations undergoing significant change since 1995. The research and field work undertaken during this time has helped identify the most important qualities that make some people more resilient than others.

In fact, there are seven key characteristics of resilient people: optimism, self-assuredness, focus, an openness to ideas, seeking support, being structured and being proactive. These components of resilience all play a vital role in enabling people to cope well with change.

Each change initiative must deliver the intended benefits and contribute to developing overall change capacity. If corporate adaptability is to become embedded into the organisational culture, a prerequisite is that organisations successfully implement individual initiatives. Yet research consistently reveals high failure rates for transformational change initiatives:

According to Business Intelligence seven out of ten change efforts that are critical to organisational success, fail to achieve their intended results.

Independent IT research firm Gartner Group reports that for major corporate systems investments:

– 28% are abandoned before completion ?

– 46% are behind schedule or over budget ?

– 80% are not used in the way they were intended to be or not used at all six months after installation.

Many so-called failures are actually change projects that have been partially installed, rather than fully implemented. The organisational, strategy, process and technology components of a change initiative may have been put in place effectively, but are not being applied or used in the intended way with the required level of understanding, commitment and personal ownership. People readily slip back into their old ways of working when change leadership efforts are prematurely withdrawn.

True implementation goes beyond mere installation, it requires that a critical mass of people is committed, are willing to change and will sustain their new behaviour to align with the needs of the change. Effective change management is the critical bridge between partial installation and full implementation and is essential to the delivery of sustained benefit. ?

Weak leadership - Initiatives often stall, for example, when there is a mismatch between a sponsor's words and actions or if confidence in the change agent is low. All leaders need to

act as role models, tackling resistance, creating readiness to change and building commitment at every level of the organisation on a daily basis.

Inability to deal with resistance

The greater the disruption and personal impact of the change, the higher the level of resistance. Employees may oppose a move away from the status quo if they fear that change will have a detrimental effect on their security, personal finance, working relationships or level of responsibility.

Cultural misalignment

Transformational change initiatives often challenge people's deeply held values about the way they work, how they are supervised and how they are rewarded. Five key areas are a potential source of conflict—or support—for change: organisational practices, leadership style, management practices, HR policies and performance management. The organisational culture must be aligned with the new change agenda from the outset, to help people change their behaviour, engage with and sustain the change.

Pramod Parkar

Director, Edify Consultants Pvt Ltd

Pramod Parkar, 49, is a dynamic and energetic Behavioral skills trainer. He has over 30 years of experience, He has spent over 12 years training and facilitating in the areas of Business & Leadership Training Programs. He has had successful stints as a Corporate Professional and as an Entrepreneur.
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