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Change Is No Child's Play
No matter how big the treat is, everyone wants to see what's there on his plate.

"When you are through changing, you are through." ~Bruce Barton

Time changes and it takes everything under its wings. It imbibes the essence of change in the people, their aspirations, their goals, market needs, market indicators, and all other possible determinant variables. When constitution changes, jury's verdict shifts, and then the lawyer also has to be selective about his arguments. That is how the decision makers also look at the strategic role that they have in an organisation. Change is absolute and constant; moreover change is a universal truth, universally sustained and universally applicable. Every organisation should understand and use it for the betterment of its own. The role of the decision makers is chronically absolute in respect to the change-culture building in that organisation. Just making a pro-change mind set is not enough.

The role of the change agents necessitates an exquisite competence on the diagnosis; they should go for the GAP analysis, stating clearly the present stand vis-�-vis the desired or aspired status, and thereafter strategies should be developed furnishing the most effective and efficient way to bridge the gap. The strategy building part must adhere to theChange is no child's play prevailing processes, structures, systems, norms, people's issues and leadership style in the light of their relevance (or irrelevance) to the aspired future state. We must look at the place(s) where we should create the change to bring about the best favourable impact. But before actually going ahead with the creation of change, prerequisite is to create the right atmosphere for the change, the atmosphere where changes are positively viewed, rationally appreciated and intuitively owned by the people. Along with full top management support, one needs to access the probable acceptance level of the initiatives because it might happen that an initiative, rightly planned and fully supported by the top management, might fail due to lack of its ability to gain the buying-in conviction at the grass root level.

This across-organisational-pro-change-consensus is critical to be ensured as enthusiastic, involved and ownership-driven participation is absolutely necessary for any change initiative to taste the kiss of success. They should be thoroughly convinced about the final take away(s) that the initiatives ensure for them; otherwise, it will be always-pushed-but-never-pulled force. In any organisation, everybody looks at his plate and tries to determine what he gets out of the treat; the treat might be for a great cause, but if it fails to address any of the unmet desires of people, people suffer from the lack of intuitional drive to go for it. So the task of the top management is to build the common consensus among people about their tangible gains that the initiatives will guarantee at the end of the process, even, in some cases, in between the process. These tangibles might range from A to Z with all possible sorts of combinations and permutations, starting right from money, through career growth, knowledge enhancement, to improved working environment, team spirit and so on. When that individually collective consensus is gained, that is when you can get owners of your change process from people who will actually be enthusiastic to roll their sleeves up and work to make the change work.

To convince them about their gains out of the change initiatives, options are plenty and their success lies in the right assessment of nature of organisation, need of the hour, nature of the change, that of leaders, initiators, implementers, timing and mode of the implementation, communication of the implementation, communication of the post-implementation results etc., because all these closely shape people's perception of the change initiatives and their responding behaviour up on the same. That is why it should be entirely an action-research way of approach to the process.

For example, an organisation thought of changing the entire recruitment process and gave it a very modern shape. With the previous recruitment model, the organisation experienced staggeringly huge backlogs of manpower, even the general awareness of the HR department on that issue was quite vague and prejudice driven. People had a misconception that our compensation pattern and availability of right talents were miserably unfavourable. But a close diagnosis of the system brought the bug out which proved that it was the recruitment process which was bottleneck and worsening the sad talent-starvation of the organisation. The altered recruitment process brought skepticism in some people's minds, but when the outstanding initial result (which was a great success), was communicated to them, they also felt the actuality and indispensability of the change and happily started owning the new process. The recruitment process was closely analysed and necessary changes in almost all the required spheres like, content and presentation of the advertisement, sourcing sources, duration between short-listing and interview calls, interviewing frequency, evaluators' configuration, mode of interview, kind of treatment provided and handling of job aspiring candidates, criterion of evaluation, job requirement analysis, closer, offer letter specifications, etc were brought. When there were positive results in the new process and when people were rightly communicated about the improved results, they started having faith on the new process, came forward to get involved and own it.

The utmost prerequisite of any developmental initiative to get success is to gain the absolute faith of the top management, it should believe in the necessity, importance and value of the initiative. They, while doing the prioritisation, should always value the long term importance of an initiative over the short term cost it incurs, and should have strong faith on it.

The management should ensure an environment where change does not shock people, it becomes a habit. To do so, the culture should be empowered with flexibility and innovation. Flexibility of mind, a core value for many of today's organisations, generates the agile urge in people's minds to search for the new effective ways of doing things.

If this is a kind of culture that any organisation is eyeing at, then isolation is the sure-shot of death for that process. We should always think strategically, and not mere periodically. Today, when we are in a cost-competitive environment, we should go deep into even any one single activity to evaluate its contribution to the bottom line of the overall organisation in a long run. Now organisations are left with very few options to create differential advantage over others as technology, product, services, process, system, etc. everything can be copied (or inspired on); but what can not be copied is people, people competence is what defines and differentiates the organisations. There has to be a direct and specific correlation between all the initiatives to gain the maximum out of this advantage. As all the initiatives touch one common factor, people, we should bring in proper aligning of all the decisions taken to serve both the business face and human face of the organisation to compete, succeed, sustain and lead for a long race (correlated relay-race).

By - Aniruddh Banerjee

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