Business Change Management: Managing Change

Anticipate and respond to changing customer demands

My first reaction to Charles Bishop’s message was totally off base. Bishop wrote “Making Change Happen One Person at a Time”.

I assumed the book, subtitled “Assessing Change Capacity within Your Organization,” was one of those faddish guides that empower top management to manipulate employees, and then feel even more smug about themselves. Wrong!

It turns out that Bishop is no corporate toady. Although he worked as a senior human resources executive at Quaker Oats, NationsBank, Federal Express and other well-known giants, he is refreshingly candid and plainspoken about how ineptly most companies manage people.

“It’s not that CEOs have bad intentions; they’re misguided,” he says. “CEOs travel a lot and read too many airline magazines. They’re always looking for the magic elixir.”

What they’re looking for, Bishop says, are ways for their companies to anticipate and respond to changing customer demands, and the people within their organization to carry out these changes. The process of finding the right people to lead and manage change is usually deficient, he says, because it’s typically haphazard or relies on performance measurements. He says performance appraisals aren’t especially truthful – “everyone’s always above average” – and don’t help much in determining future leaders.

To help companies find the right people, Bishop developed a process that identifies the company’s objectives and then assesses individuals to determine whether they have the ability to manage change. In his book, Bishop explains how this all works so that evaluations are performed quickly and fairly, and in a way that minimizes politics and maximizes honesty. The end product is a rating of people as A-, B-, C- or D-players. As much as I hate the thought of employees being rated by management – whose own abilities, heaven knows, often leave much to be desired – the rating system rings true.

We’ve all met Bishop’s A-players – people at any level who like learning, volunteer on new projects and find excitement in doing different work. A’s care about the impact of their activities on customers, get along well with others, and are able to accomplish a lot because people like working with them.

B-players are like A’s, but only under certain conditions. Sometimes they’re enthusiastic, sometimes not. At times they see the big picture, other times they don’t. Typically, they’ll be dependable agents of change, but not leaders.

C-players are the silent majority. Never leaders nor enthusiastic about change, some C’s are flexible and eventually adapt to new environments, others can’t or won’t. They can be stubborn and uncreative.

D-players actively resist change. If it’s new, they hate it. They may overtly sabotage change efforts or passively resist them.

Like Bishop, my sympathies are with authentic A- and B-players who give it their all, not the political phonies who talk the talk to get ahead. It riles me when real A’s and B’s are ignored or abused by oblivious and destructive C- and D-type managers.

If Bishop’s book wises up management and eventually makes life better for the A’s and B’s, I say Bravo!

Article – Copyright 2001 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA

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