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DAY ONE: Workshop — Leadership in Changing and Challenging Times

Posted 05-04-2009 at 12:23 AM by 94th Annual
Change is certain in business. In these volatile times, organizations must have the capabilities to adapt to the changing environment. Achieving a successful change management initiative requires effective leaders (formal and informal) who can communicate with staff and guide them through the transition, says Ernest G. Gabbard, J.D., CPSM, C.P.M., CPCM, director, corporate strategic sourcing for Allegheny Technologies, Inc. and workshop presenter.

Leadership is not exerting authority over people but persuading them that change is necessary and providing the guidance to achieve the results. How we deal with change determines whether we’ll be successful — position alone will not drive desired results. It requires understanding the elements of change management and demonstrating the ability to collaborate. Anyone can possess these skills and help lead their organization — no official title required! In fact, informal leaders are just as important as those with a corner office, because they help support the initiative and address the fears their peers have about the upcoming change.

In fact, the primary reason 52 percent to 68 percent of change initiatives fail is because “people issues” are not addressed. To succeed first requires a change management plan that recognizes and optimizes the change process and phases.
1. Prepare people for the change by articulating the vision of how things will look afterwards.
2. Solicit support for the process by explaining how people will benefit from the initiative.
3. Assure that the necessary resources are available and identify what those are (for example, people skills, technology and budget).
4. Continuously communicate the status of the initiative.

The change process must be established to anticipate reactions, calm fears, solicit support and create optimism for the initiative. People will go through several phases during the change initiative; knowing how to react as a leader (formal and informal) is paramount.
Stability: The stage before the change initiative is announced. People will want things to remain in this state. Thus, create a compelling vision to begin moving people toward the change.

Shock: The announcement may result in disbelief and irritability. This is the time to be visible as a leader for people to turn to.

Denial: An attempt by people to minimize or downplay the change initiative. Again, visibility is key as is communication — even if the news is bad.

Anger: May be expressed overtly or covertly, which can be unproductive and severely damage progress. While it’s important to allow people to vent, hold private meetings or forums to discuss people’s issues.

Bargaining: During this phase, people will attempt to mitigate the change’s impact on them. The rumor mill starts turning, as well. Again, honest communication helps separate the facts from the fiction.

Depression: There is a feeling of hopelessness and loss, especially if layoffs occur. It’s important to allow people time to grieve the loss of co-workers.

Exploration: Once the depression phase subsides, people begin focusing on the new possibilities as a result of the change and a level of acceptance emerges. Creativity can be at its best during this stage, so try to perpetuate it.

Acceptance: There is newly found optimism and a change in behavior from people. Reinforce the vision and focus on sustainable change behavior.

Communication, collaboration and persuasion are critical during these stages to gain positive results. Provide clear leadership and support through communication, and listen to people to assure all options are explored.

At a time when more organizations are outsourcing the supply management function, it’s important to demonstrate your value to the organization (for example, the ability to anticipate change, manage risk and create competitive advantage).

Supply management professionals must take responsibility for their personal and professional growth. Where can I make a difference in my organization? Do I see myself as a leader? What skills do I need to take on a more leadership role?

There will always be change. How you respond is up to you.
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