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New Year, New Office or Not?

January 14 2019 - by Nadia Spencer- Henry, Debt Manager, Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance - Antigua & Barbuda, and CLP Alumna

If you’re like me you’re busy reviewing the last year’s achievements and failures. And with possibility thinking you’re looking forward for greater and better in 2019.  However, greater and better requires some planning and looking out for potential pitfalls. In this blog I will share with you some tools for steering your ship through change in 2019. I will focus on assessing yourself as a leader and communicating your change vision.

Self-Assessment

Ask yourself some key questions. Do I need new knowledge and skills and have I identified what they would be? Do I have a clear plan? Do I know where I can get help? Using the Business Driven Action Learning (BDAL) process or even Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats will help you to get answers to some of these questions. And just in case you’ve lost touch on how to use these techniques, now is a good time to reach out to the alumni of the CLP’s Leadership Development Programme to refresh your skills.

Some more reflection questions that could help you know if you’re really prepared include: 

  • Do I have time in my schedule to carry out change activities or can I incorporate them in my current activities?
  • Am I prepared to deal with criticisms or the lack of support?
  • Have I budgeted for any additional expenses and if not, can this change happen without any implications to the budget?
  • Do I have sufficient personnel to dedicate to the change process? 

The list I’ve provided is not exhaustive but some reflection on these questions should let you know if your change efforts are likely to meet with success or failure. 

Communicating the Change Vision

Leaders need followers to be truly considered leaders. Obvious right? So you may be required to frequently present your vision of what you would like to accomplish.  This vision must be communicated in an attractive way to staff, internal and external stakeholders. The communication must be timely and personalized for the audience.

People can be distrustful, so be prepared to repeat your vision numerous times and in multiple ways. Sometimes people assume that the supervisor is not telling the truth, and actually more often than not, they misinterpret what they hear. Pardon me if I sound cynical, but communication is often taken for granted and so many assumptions are made. 

As the leader who’s proposing or leading the change you can’t afford to take anything for granted. At the middle management level, make sure that the organizational leadership is sufficiently convinced or enthusiastic about the change. Monitor their communication cues and listen for positive or active resistance. So when I hear comments like “I don’t think that now is the right time”, I may try to see if I can pin down when it would be possible to revisit the idea. However, comments like “this would not work in our organization”, tells me that I need to go back to the drawing board. 

Stakeholder analysis is absolutely necessary even for a short-term change effort, quick win or low hanging fruit. For example, if a public office decides to close for any purpose on a normal business day it is customary to advise the general public several days in advance of the closure via various media outlets. In similar fashion, if your unit decides to forego a procedural step or add a new process to a procedure, stakeholder analysis is critical. 

Conclusion 

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what is needed to get your change process on the way. So my humble advice is: give yourself some time before jumping in! As my executive coach puts it: “pace and lead.” Most importantly, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Your CLP family is waiting to assist you with all the tools you need. They are just a phone call, an email, or a WhatsApp message away.

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