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Five Elements of Change Management

This article was orginally published on Medium

HR planning is no easy task, especially when it comes to restructuring complex organisations, re-aligning teams and functions and letting go of people in order to get company back on track. Most companies have a good feel for why certain internal groups may be under-performing expectations but despite the awareness, we find clients to be apprehensive about HR restructuring. Who to let go? How to devise an objective appraisal process? What may be the impact on morale and overall internal team dynamic? What are the direct and indirect costs associated with such an undertaking? What would be the legal consequences? What guarantees success at the end of restructuring process? The last point being one of the most common client concerns.

To put it plainly, there are no guarantees in any HR restructuring, however the Knoster Model is a typical strategy tool used to think about change management comprehensively. The model below illustrates how the main five components of vision, skills, incentives, resources and action plan, all come together to drive potential success in organisational change.

Knoster Model for Managing Change

As per model above, if an organisation lacks an adequate action plan, deficient of proper processes and corrective measures, it will be stuck at the starting position, unable to drive meaningful progress. If change model lacks resources, there is likely going to be significant frustration within the organisation from being held back in reaching its realisable potential. If model lacks proper incentives, the employees may push back, i.e. resist change given their perception of high risk against low reward. If model lacks the appropriate organisational capacity building and skills required to move forward, it is likely that employees feel a high level of uncertainty in their abilities and in turn anxiety around avoidable failures. Finally, if the change management model is devoid of a well-articulated vision, the organization will suffer from confusion and lack of direction.

It is important to note here that an inspiring vision, a solid strategy and a well-designed action plan can be easily undone by poor execution. Therefore, recruiting a dedicated team for timely rollout of the action plan is critical to making headway in change management. This core team may include certain temporary resources including consultants, advisers and re-assigned staff, facilitating and overseeing the transition including appropriate investor relations management. This task force may be headed by Chairperson or any of the appointed Directors with direct reporting to the Board of Directors.

Our experience suggests that most of our client’s re-organisational needs stem from lack of leadership and under developed capacities and less from organizational structures and unclear job descriptions. Most managers are not leaders since they manage or maintain a status quo with little flexibility displayed in adapting to new conditions. This fixed mindset also filters into under-training staff and in turn, over-hiring, thereby building low productivity and high fixed costs into the system. Limited vision and slow adaptability both accumulate over the years creating high levels of inertia within the organisation. In other words, bad habits die hard.

While no two organisations share the same operational and financial complexities, applying the Knoster framework, helps leaders effectively compare successful and failed HR restructurings in light of its five components. We know that positive or negative change over time, despite its risks and complications, is inevitable. Effective leadership is all about embracing change through active listening, timely evaluation, accountability and planning so that organisations have the opportunity to adapt to market shifts in time.

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