Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Nov-Dec 2014 Contents 58
CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS NEVER EASY, BUT
MANAGING PEOPLE AND ORGANISATIONS THROUGH
CHANGE CONTINUES TO BE ONE OF THE MOST
CRITICAL ASPECTS OF SUPPLY CHAIN LEADERSHIP.
THIS ARTICLE EXPLORES FIVE STRATEGIES FOR
SUCCESSFULLY MANAGING SUPPLY CHAIN CHANGE.
Transformation and change is the subject
of many supply chain leaders' agendas,
yet one of the major challenges lies not
so much in executing change, but in defining
what change-management actually means. It
has been the subject of so many management
books, articles and blogs that the term has
almost been rendered meaningless.
Gartner research shows there are five key
elements that leaders must weave together
to create successful change: leadership,
narration, engagement, execution, and
The main goal of leadership during times of
change and transformation is to get people
to voluntarily engage in the journey. This
means leaders themselves need to be fully
engaged, and savvy enough to manage internal
expectations and relationships. Just as there are
five keys to change management, there are also
five themes to leadership. These include:
1. Focus: leaders need to be disciplined in
moving towards their destination, and clear
about where they're going. They also need to
keep distractions to a minimum.
2. Energy: long, drawn out change projects can
tire organisations. Successful leaders know
how to keep the momentum going when
energy and interest wanes.
3. Transparency: be honest with employees
about why change is necessary, as well as
what impact it may have on the business.
Transparency also means being honest when
you don't have the answers.
4. Governance: strong governance structures
provide clarity and increased engagement for
stakeholders and those impacted by supply
5. Conflict: change often creates conflict, but
successful leaders know how to proactively
and productively confront and resolve conflict.
Practical steps: connect your change initia-
tive to critical, long-term business priorities. Stay
away from fads and focus on a consistent lead-
ership message that employees feel comfortable
engaging with. Large change initiatives need active
leadership on all teams. Engage leaders and
stakeholders rather than just seeking sponsorship,
as a sponsor's role is open to interpretation.
Successful change strategy starts with a compel-
ling change story. The story itself is a significant
part of an employee's experience, and forms part
of the platform for motivation and expectations.
Gartner research shows that transformation
leaders develop a core narrative for transforma-
tion and connect that narrative to a compelling
'catalyst' that drives the need for change. These
narratives are rooted in the organisation's supply
chain strategy and align with the leader's desire
to make the supply chain a more value-added
partner to the business and the customers
they serve. Creating a positive, narrative-based
• Understanding that communication is a
marathon, not a sprint. You can't say every-
thing about change and transition up front.
You need to focus on communicating small,
focused messages on a regular basis to
targeted audiences and through multiple
channels. This allows you to cut through the
• Having a consistent, core theme. It's critical
to have a succinct set of core messages that
crystallise the catalyst. These messages form
the basis for ongoing employee engagement
and risk taking. They need to be driven by
corporate and supply chain strategy, and be
consistent throughout the transition.
• Engaging emotions and rationale. People are
motivated by emotions. Rational concepts like
cost cutting are important, but they need to
be connected to what people care about.
• Listening. Stakeholders have insights to
provide on the change being proposed, and
need to have an opportunity to share those
insights. Leaders who listen and integrate
this learning develop a substantial amount of
goodwill with the people involved in change.
Practical steps: employees are bombarded by
thousands of messages a day, meaning commu-
nications can sometimes be taken for granted.
Being aware of, and deliberately crafting, a fun-
damentally different communication approach
signals to employees that something is different
about this change initiative. Engage a communi-
cations professional to help focus the communi-
cation plan, and develop a long-term communi-
cation engagement plan. Encourage employees
to ask questions, and listen to what they think
Leaders often think change management
requires buy-in. And while buy-in appeals to
people with a logical, rational argument, con-
vincing them that change is the right thing
to do, when employees buy in they agree to
go along with the change but don't always
understand, agree with, or become emotionally
invested in making the change happen.
Gartner research shows that adoption of new
practices can only truly be achieved through
engagement with employees. Engagement gets
employees actively involved in discussions,
design and implementation. It makes them
emotionally invested in the success of change.
The problem with engagement is that it's not
a passive change approach. It requires active
management. But whilst it is more of an invest-
ment, it pays the company back in enhanced
design of change processes and systems, better
employee understanding of desired outcomes,
FIVE STRATEGIES FOR
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2014
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