Unfreezing techniques – getting ready for change

Unfreezing techniques! Unfreezing is the first of Lewin’s change stages

Unfreezing techniques are not generally well understood! Unfreezing is the first of unfreezing techniquesLewin’s change stages (the Square). This is about getting people ready to accept change. You need some way of readying people for change in whatever Change Model you apply. The techniques below need to be applied with care and they are best used in combination. I have included what I regard as recommended approaches. Not included is “Command – just telling them they are going to change and expecting obedience. Nor is  the “Burning Platform” – ‘the platform is burning so we must jump’ approach. Those two techniques, I regard as cop-outs in most circumstances. Although they may have their place in a crisis – see the Evidence point below!

Visioning

Done well, visions work to create change. Visions work when they act to motivate and inspire the large numbers of people who are needed to make the change happen. To be motivating,  the vision must be memorable. For it to be memorable, it is usually surprising and short. To be surprising, it should be different from everyone else’s vision. If it is to be believed, it must be a regular part of the conversation of senior people.

Challenge

Inspire people to achieve remarkable things. Stimulate people into change by challenging them to achieve something remarkable. Show confidence in their ability to get out of their comfort zone and do what has not been done before. This works particularly well with small groups, as well as individuals. Once the group has bought the challenge they will bounce off each other to make it happen.  The approach is most effective when the people create their own stretch goals.  So, rather than telling them to do something, challenge them to achieve. Then, when they are fired up, ask them how far they can go.

Evidence

Cold, hard, data is difficult to ignore.  Say you have incontrovertible evidence staring you in the face. For example, the numbers are showing the company in the red or sales sinking into the sunset. Then, it is difficult to put your head in the sand and wish it away.  Cold, hard, evidence is a good way of changing minds. Counter-arguments require better data of sufficient strength to show your data as invalid.

Education and training

There is a gentler way of helping people see the need for change. This is by educating them about why change is necessary and how change can be managed. You could include presentations, communications and full-on training sessions.

Use of  Objectives

This means you agree with people what to do, but not how.  You set formal objectives that they are committed to achieve. But you do not tell them how they have to achieve them. In particular, if you can, give people objectives that they can only achieve by working in the intended change. Set a goal or formal objective that requires them to change.

Restructuring

You can redesign the organisation to force behaviour change. Just as function follows form, so will change follow the re-shape.  It will change how people behave. Newly formed groups that can cohere into separate units are more likely to become very internally motivated. Motivation is good, but the internal facing can be away from the organisation. So you must ensure that group goals are aligned. This is, for example, by regular external communications.

Rites of passage

Hold a wake to help let go of the past.  A wake is a party that is held to celebrate the life of someone who has died. It can also mean something to symbolise letting go of the past. Among unfreezing techniques this is often missed. When a change is completed, celebrate with a party or some other ritualised recognition. Mark the passing of a key milestone. You can also start a change with a wake – some kind of key event. Create new rituals to help shift the culture to a new form. Use these, if possible, to replace the rituals that already exist.

You need some way of readying people for change in whatever change model you apply. The unfreezing techniques described here work and they are best used in combination.

You will find a post on managing the next stage of change; Managing Transition here

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

 

MORE ON THE FREEZE PHASE/SQUARE-BLOB-STAR MODEL

Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze or Square-Blob-Star Model of Change

In our last post we described the simple Freeze Phase Model proposed by Lewin.  In 1972  J. S Rhoades used a simple three-step “unfreeze-change-refreeze” model to describe the process of the growth and change during outdoor education programs.  This apears to have been based on the 3-step change process first described by Kurt Lewin in 1951.  It is also described as the square-blob-star model.  It basically means going from State A into an unfrozen, unformed or “blob” change, and then reforming in a different pattern, such as a star.

  1. The first step, “unfreeze” involves the process of letting go of certain restricting attitudes during the initial stages of an outdoor education experience (from the Square).
  2. The second step, “change” involves alteration of self-conceptions and ways of thinking during the experience. (the Blob)
  3. The third step, “refreeze” involves solidifying or crystallizing the changes into a new, permanent form for the individual, a process which takes place towards the end of an outdoor education programme ( the Star).

There are techniques for “unfreezing”, managing “transition/change” and “refreezing” and that is what the next series of post will address.

Heros – Gurus of Change Mnagement

The outstanding names in the field of Change Management whose work has been and continues to be widely quoted  – all have drawn primarily on case studies largely connected with their own consulting practices. These ‘change gurus’ are John Kotter, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Warren Bennis, Chris Argyris, Charles Handy, Ed Schein and Andrew Pettigrew.

All have advanced the field substantially with detailed qualitative analyses of successful and unsuccessful change programs. From reflection on their extensive experience with organizational change, they have developed descriptive schemas to describe key phases in corporate change and prescriptive formulae for effectively managing these stages. We should be grateful to all – there are others

John Kotter

Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter is widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority on leadership and change.  His is the premier voice on how the best organizations actually “do” change.

In his newest work, A Sense of Urgency, Kotter shows what a true sense of urgency in an organization really is, why it is becoming an exceptionally important asset, and how it can be created and sustained within organizations.

John Kotter’s international bestseller Leading Change—which outlined an actionable, eight-step process for implementing successful transformations—has become the change bible for managers around the world

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former Editor of Harvard Business Review (1989-1992), Professor Kanter has been named to lists of the “50 most powerful women in the world” (Times of London), and the “50 most influential business thinkers in the world” (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research). In 2001, she received the Academy of Management’s Distinguished Career Award for her scholarly contributions to management knowledge, and in 2002 was named “Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year” by the World Teleport Association.

Professor Kanter is the author or co-author of 17 books, which have been translated into 17 languages.  Her recent book, Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End (a New York Times business and #1 Business Week bestseller), describes the culture and dynamics of high-performance organizations as compared with those in decline, and shows how to lead turnarounds, whether in businesses, hospitals, schools, sports teams, community organizations, or countries.

Warren Bennis,

Warren Bennis (born 1925) is a laid-back silver-haired professor at the University of Southern California who has been an influential authority on leadership for decades. He has been consulted on the subject by at least four American presidents and by some of the best-known occupants of corporate boardrooms around the world.

His fundamental tenet is that leaders are made, not born. The worst problem they can face, says Bennis, is “early success. There’s no opportunity to learn from adversity and problems”. Other myths about leadership that he dismisses are that it is a rare skill; that leaders are charismatic (most of them are quite ordinary people); and that leaders control and manipulate (they do not; they align the energies of others behind an attractive goal).

Being a leader is very different from being a manager, says Bennis. So being a manager in an organisation is not necessarily the best training for being the leader of that organisation. But it is the only training that most CEOs get for the job. Managers, however, can learn to be leaders. “I believe in ‘possible selves’,” Bennis has written, “the capacity to adapt and change.”

“I think a lot of the leaders I’ve spoken to give expression to their feminine side. Many male leaders are almost bisexual in their ability to be open and reflective…Gender is not the determining factor.”

In “Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge”, Bennis lists four competencies that leaders need to develop:

• forming a vision which provides people with a bridge to the future;

• giving meaning to that vision through communication;

• building trust, “the lubrication that makes it possible for organisations to work”;

• searching for self-knowledge and self-regard.

Chris Argyris

Chris Argyris  is an American business theorist, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, and a Thought Leader at Monitor Group. He is commonly known for seminal work in the area of “Learning Organizations”.

Action Science, one of Argyris’ collaborative works with Robert Putnam and Diana McLain Smith, developed together with Donald Schön as well, advocates an approach to research that focuses on generating knowledge that is useful in solving practical problems. Other key concepts developed by Argyris include Ladder of Inference, Double-Loop Learning, Theory of Action/Espoused Theory/Theory-in-use, High Advocacy/High Inquiry dialogue and Actionable Knowledge.

Chris Argyris’ early research explored the impact of formal organizational structures, control systems and management on individuals and how they responded and adapted to them. This research resulted in the books Personality and Organization, 1957 and Integrating the Individual and the Organization, 1964. He then shifted his focus to organizational change, in particular exploring the behaviour of senior executives in organizations (Interpersonal Competence and Organizational Effectiveness, 1962; Organization and Innovation, 1965).

From there he moved onto an inquiry into the role of the social scientist as both researcher and actor (Intervention Theory and Method, 1970; Inner Contradictions of Rigorous Research, 1980 and Action Science, 1985 – with Robert Putnam and Diana McLain Smith). His fourth major area of research and theorizing – in significant part undertaken with Donald Schön – was in individual and organizational learning and the extent to which human reasoning, not just behavior, can become the basis for diagnosis and action (Theory in Practice, 1974 ; Organizational Learning, 1978; Organizational Learning II, 1996 – all with Donald Schön). He has also developed this thinking in Overcoming Organizational Defenses, 1990 and Knowledge for Action, 1993.

Charles Handy

Charles Handy (born 1932) is the son of an Irish Protestant vicar whose broad interests spread from religion and philosophy to the organisation of the workplace. In “The Gods of Management” he identified four different management cultures which he likened to four Greek gods: Apollo, Athena, Dionysus and Zeus. His vivid use of metaphor and his accessible writing style have made his books extremely popular. It was once said of Peter Drucker ( that he was a man “practising the scholarship of common sense”. Charles Handy added “I would like that to be said of me.”

Handy began his career as an employee of Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch oil company, and was sent to work on a drilling operation in the jungles of Borneo, where he made mistakes and was given (as he put it) a chance to redeem himself. He later vividly described how little relation his life on the job had to the goal he had been given by corporate headquarters—namely, to maximise the company’s return on equity. Handy’s subsequent written work has almost always been a search for ways in which companies can go beyond the pure pursuit of profit. How can they be transformed into communities and soar above being mere properties to be bought and sold?

Based for most of his working life in Britain, Handy became the UK’s leading management spokesperson. He came up with catchy concepts such as “the shamrock organisation” (which, like the eponymous plant, has three leaves: management; specialists; and an increasingly flexible labour force) and “portfolio working”, a lifestyle in which the individual holds a number of “jobs, clients and types of work” all at the same time.

Handy’s main interest was organisations, and his message was that they are “not machines that can be neatly designed, mapped, measured and controlled”. He once used his experience of moving his kitchen seven times within the same house as a lesson to managers who try to fit “a modern organisation into old-fashioned spaces”.

“I told my children when they were leaving education that they would be well advised to look for customers not bosses.”

He had a key role in shaping British management education in the 1960s and 1970s. After a year in Boston observing MIT’s way of teaching business, he returned to Britain, a country that had no management education other than the ersatz activities that then passed for it—an accountancy training or a spell in the British army. On his return he helped set up London Business School, drawing heavily on educational programmes (the MBA in particular) that he had much admired in America.

Later on he seemed to have some regrets about this. While accountants were not trained to be managers, he wrote in “Myself and Other More Important Matters”, “the way they and their kindred professions of law, medicine and architecture had been educating their future professionals did seem to have stood the test of time. They all consistently mixed formal learning with some form of apprenticeship.” As The Economist once said of Handy  “More common sense is what he stands for, and fewer common rooms.”

Notable publications

“The Empty Raincoat”, Hutchinson, 1994

“The Gods of Management”, Pan, 1985; new edn, Arrow, 1995

“The Age of Unreason”, Hutchinson Business, 1989; 2nd edn, Arrow, 1995

“Myself and Other More Important Matters”, Heinemann, 2006

Ed Schein

Ed Schein was educated at the University of Chicago, at Stanford University where he received a Masters Degree in Psychology in 1949, and at Harvard University where he received his Ph.D. in social psychology in 1952. He was Chief of the Social Psychology Section of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research while serving in the U.S. Army as Captain from 1952 to 1956. He joined MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 1956 and was made a Professor of Organizational Psychology and Management in 1964.

From 1968 to 1971 Schein was the Undergraduate Planning Professor for MIT, and in 1972 he became the Chairman of the Organization Studies Group of the MIT Sloan School, a position he held until 1982. He was honored in 1978 when he was named the Sloan Fellows Professor of Management, a Chair he held until 1990.

At the present he is Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus and continues at the Sloan School part time as a Senior Lecturer. He is also the Founding Editor of “Reflections” the Journal of the Society for Organizational Learning devoted to connecting academics, consultants, and practitioners around the issues of knowledge creation, dissemination and utilization.

Schein has been a prolific researcher, writer, teacher and consultant. Besides his numerous articles in professional journals he has authored fourteen books including Organizational Psychology (3d edit., 1980), Career Dynamics (1978), Organizational Culture and Leadership (1985, 1992, 2004), and Process Consultation Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (1969, 1987, 1988), Process Consultation Revisited (1999), and The Corporate Culture Survival Guide (1999).

Andrew Pettigrew

Andrew Pettigrew OBE is Professor of Strategy and Organisation at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. A British professor, he was formerly dean of the University of Bath School of Management. He received his training in sociology and anthropology at Liverpool University and received his Ph.D from Manchester Business School in 1970. He has held academic appointments at Yale University, Harvard University London Business School and Warwick Business School.

Pettigrew has published many academic papers and books that consider the human, political, and social aspects of organisations and their strategies in contrast to the purely economic view in which the main unit of analysis is the firm or industry as typified by Michael Porter. This is known as the strategy process school as opposed to the strategy content school.

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[1]

Despite his intellectual preference for fewer distinctions between content, process, and context, he still tends to be viewed as a researcher in the process tradition simply because it, as he, is interested in more than static decisions. He argues (2003b) that:

  • The link between formulation and implementation is not unilinear but interrelated time
  • Understanding the change associated with strategy requires understanding of continuity over time
  • Strategy, and its impact on future outcomes, are shaped by power and politics

This view of strategy requires the strategy researcher to be historian, anthropologist, and political analyst.

Pettigrew, AM, Strategy as Process, Power, and Change, in Cummings, S, & Wilson, D, (2003b), Images of Strategy, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 301-330

DELIVER THE CHANGE – A CHECK LIST FOR BEING A GOOD CHANGE AGENT

“Everything I do has to be of service to other people and totally exciting for me.” Rob Brezsny,

They identify opportunities for change and act on them– instead of just talking about it or waiting for someone else to take the lead. We admire them for their energy and courage” Jennifer Louden

So what is a Change Agent –  quite simply it is somebody or something that brings about, or helps to bring about, change!  In Change Management it is usually a person whose presence or thought processes cause a change from the traditional way of handling or thinking about a problem to a new way of thinking.  The result of change agent activity is to enable people to do more, or find a new and better perspective on work and to achieve a new corporate vision.  It’s a special role but one we might all aspire to!  Here’s what I think it takes!

A change agent has Vision. Regardless of what is going on today, a change agent has a vision to see what could be!  This can be from their own thinking or being able to understand a vision articulated by someone else!   To a certain extent, a change agent is dissatisfied with what they see around them, and the status quo.   They are looking for something better and without this future drive, the change agent can lose their way.

A change agent can communicate. Change agents can communicate their vision to those about them.  They can share and paint you a picture that can fire your enthusiasm!  You want to follow their lead!

A change agent has passion. Change is hard work. It takes a lot of energy. Don’t underestimate this. Without passion, it is very difficult indeed to muster up enough energy to assault the fortress of status quo that seems to otherwise carry the day.

A change agent is self-motivated. There will be many days where everyone around does not seem understand where a change agent is trying to lead. The change agent needs to find it within themselves to live with being misunderstood and knowing that the real validation may be far in the future and may be claimed by someone else.

A change understands people. At the end of the day, change is about people. If you change everything but the people, I doubt you’ll be effective as a change agent. Change will really “stick” when people embrace it. Therefore, change is part sales, part counseling and part encouragement. It’s all about people.

A change agent can empathize. To be successful a change agent needs to be able to see change from the perspective of those being asked to change and understand and manage their discomfort.  It is important to understand, but not to sympathize with them to the point where you cannot function.  A change agent needs to be able to manage their own feelings without being cold!  It really helps to have a deep commitment to the Vision

A change agent has fortitude. To get up and do this job every day takes real inner strength! A tough change will take all your energy, strength and good will but my word will it be rewarding at the end

WHY CHANGE HURTS!

“Change hurts. It makes people insecure, confused, and angry. People want things to be the same as they’ve always been, because that makes life easier. But, if you’re a leader, you can’t let your people hang on to the past.”  Richard Marcinko

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw quotes

An article in Strategy + Business from Booz Allen & Hamilton, The Neuroscience of Leadership, way back in 2006 , described how change hurts and how people respond to that hurt. Generally people respond to change with resistance even when it is a matter of personal survival,  This is because the brain works by relegating routine tasks to a part of the brain that requires little energy – freeing up the more energy-intensive part to process new things.   Dealing with new things can be a  very intensive and tiring experience. The same is true with organizational change. People become used to a routine at work and fall into using the equivalent of auto-pilot.  When you introduce change you engage the more intense part of the brain

But that is not all – there is another force at work in the brain that resists change. The brain is very much wired to detect “errors” in its environment – perceived differences between expectations and what it is actually finding. When it thinks an error has detected, it triggers the fright and flight mechanism.  This is one of the most primitive parts of the brain and was used to protect us in earlier stages in our development..  This fires up our reactions – the heart begins to pump blood ready for us to run away!   It hijacks our thinking.  We can become emotional and start acting impulsively – our protective animal instinct takes over.

So when you ask people to engage in change – their brain will start sending powerful warning signals  that something is going wrong.  They may well become uncomfortable and feel stress.  But if you can get them to focus on something – a particular problem or process – they will be distracted and start to develop new neural connections.  If these are reinforced enough they will become part of their subconscious.  If you can get them engaged in actively imagining the change – the fright effect will soften as the other parts of the brain take over.   But  If you start forcing actions on them without engagement you will increase the negative reaction.

So what is the best way to approach change.  Well the same study found that if the brain has a “moment of insight” coming from within (coming to a solution/conclusion by itself),  there may be sudden adrenaline-like burst of high energy. This is conducive to creating new links in the brain. So if you focus people on solutions instead of problems, they will have their own in-sights, come to their own conclusions and forge their own new links.

All this is useful but at the  end of the day, as a change manager, the choice is yours!   Do you want to engage with fright, flight, resistance and negativity?   Wouldn’t you rather share the task, go for active engagement and make the change a more positive experience for all!

GET THAT JOB – 15 INTERVIEW TIPS FOR JOB HUNTERS

Its more important than ever right now to do well at interviews.  Don’t lose your vital opportunity because you have not done your home work!

  1. Research as much as you can about the company – products, services, markets, competitors, trends, current activities, priorities.
  2. Prepare your answers for the type of questions you’ll be asked, especially, be able to say why you want the job, what your strengths are, how you’d do the job, what your best achievements are.
  3. Prepare good questions to ask at the interview – see the section below.
  4. Related to the above, request a copy of the company’s employment terms and conditions or employee handbook before the interview, in order to save time covering routine matters during the interview.
  5. Assemble hard evidence (make sure it’s clear and concise) of how what you’ve achieved in the past – proof will put you ahead of those who merely talk about it.
  6. Have at least one other interview lined up, or have a recent job offer, or the possibility of receiving one from a recent job interview, and make sure you mention it to the interviewer.
  7. Make sure your resume/cv is up to date, looking very good and even if already supplied to the interviewer take three with you (one for the interviewer, one for you and a spare in case the interviewer brings a colleague in to the meeting).
  8. Get hold of the following material and read it, and remember the relevant issues, and ask questions about the areas that relate to the organisation and the role. Obtain and research: the company’s sales brochures and literature, a trade magazine covering the company’s market sector, and a serious newspaper for the few days before the interview so you’re informed about world and national news. Also worth getting hold of: company ‘in-house’ magazines or newsletters, competitor leaflets, local or national newspaper articles featuring the company.
  9. Review your personal goals and be able to speak openly and honestly about them and how you plan to achieve them.
  10. Ensure you have two or three really good reputable and relevant references, and check they’d each be happy to be contacted.
  11. Adopt an enthusiastic, alert, positive mind-set.  Follow the link.
  12. Particularly think about how to deal positively with any negative aspects – especially from the perspective of telling the truth, instead of evading or distorting facts, which rarely succeeds.
  13. Try to get some experience of personality tests. Discover your personality strengths and weaknesses that would be indicated by a test, and be able to answer questions positively about the results. (Do not be intimidated by personality testing – expose yourself to it and learn about yourself)  More at link
  14. Think about what to wear.  Do you know the company dress code? When in doubt wear a smart business suit!
  15. Some jobs invite or offer opportunity to re-define or develop the role itself. It might be a existing role or a new position. If so prepare for this. Most jobs in fact offer this potential, but sometimes it is a stated requirement.

Asking Questions to Impress the Interviewer

A key to asking great questions at your interview is to ask questions that impress the interviewer. Most candidates just ask about routine details that they think they ought to know, or which they think of on the spur of the moment, but which will probably be provided in due course anyway in documentation about terms and conditions. This is meaningless   and should be avoided.

Instead focus on the job priorities and scope, on the organisation and ways to make a difference or an improvement. Try to think strategically like a manager, and for very senior positions, like the CEO. Try to adopt the mind-set of a helpful advisor who needs to ask helpful facilitative questions. Focus on the organisation not on your own needs.

Try to prepare and ask questions that make the interviewer think to themselves, “Wow, that’s a good question – this candidate has really thought about the role, and understands the sort of issues we need them to handle/the sort of responsibilities/initiatives we want them to take..”

Aim to ask questions that make the interviewer think, (depending on what the organisation and role requires), “Wow, that’s an unusual question – this candidate is special – they are demonstrating to me that they understand people/understand about communications/have great integrity/a strong value system/great humanity/maturity/a good strategic mind/etc, etc.”

Think before the interview about what the successful candidate will be like – ask yourself beforehand, what great questions would the successful candidate ask? And then be that person.

When you research the job look into the sort of challenges the organisation is facing, and think how this affects the vacant role. What does the employer need from the successful applicant? How might the role be extended to contribute more to the organisation if the job were performed by a suitably positive and capable person ? (That’s you incidentally.) The job advert or job specification might give you some clues. Do your research so that you understand as much as possible about the priorities of the job position, and the organisation and its situation, and then think about the ways that the role could be extended to provide greater support towards achieving organisational challenges.

This sort of background thinking will help you to prepare questions that will seriously impress any interviewer, whatever the role. It is possible also to think of good positive impressive questions just by using what you know of the role and the sort of issues that face modern employers. The point is, you need to think about it and prepare beforehand.

The use of this material is free provided copyright (see below) is acknowledged and reference or link is made to the www.businessballs.com website. This material may not be sold, or published in any form. Disclaimer: Reliance on information, material, advice, or other linked or recommended resources, received from Alan Chapman, shall be at your sole risk, and Alan Chapman assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this website are encouraged to confirm information received with other sources, and to seek local qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organisational liabilities. Managing people and relationships are sensitive activities; the free material and advice available via this website do not provide all necessary safeguards and checks. Please retain this notice on all copies.

© alan chapman 1995-2009

FIVE TIPS FOR YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY FOR HARD TIMES

We are all going through change all the time.  But at the moment many of us are going through changes we would not have chosen as a result of the poor state of the Economy.

All change requires some form of communications/media management.  It’s vital that you have a strategy in place especially if you’re hoping that social media will play a role in your career advancement or your business survival business.

Here are 5 tip for your social media strategy

1. Integrate Online and Offline
Your communication’s strategy needs to cover both your off line and and online activities (see our recent post about managing your brand)  – you want to maximise both forms of interactions.  You are going to make every effort, campaign, and initiative count.

2. Start with a plan
Before you jump in, make sure you have a plan – think about who you are trying to influence.  Who has an interest in you or your business and what you want to provide.  List them and then decide – how important they are  – how much influence they have over your future – you can score them out of five under each heading!  Those with the highest score are the people to concentrate on. For social media you are usually looking at communities – what communities are you going to engage in?  Now what will  engagement will look like? What is the message and where are you going to communicate it – blogs, social network sites, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook etc.?  How much time have you got and how many resources do you have available?  Now we are going to concentrate on social media

3. Engage in Conversations
When you use social media, it’s important to engage in conversations and get to know people just like in the off-line world.  Don’t just get in there and start pitching – it will just put people off!  Don’t be anxious to promote yourself or business at first,!  Add value and expertise and win respect in your conversations.  When you have done that opportunities will open up to talk about you and your business.  You need to win the right to pitch!

4. Monitor your Brand
Use tools like Google Alerts, Scoutlab, and Radian6 to monitor what’s being said about you, your company, your competitors and the market you are targeting. Knowing what’s being said about you and/or your brand can make you aware of your brand evangelists as well as your brand assassins. Knowing what’s being said about your competitors and the market can also make you more competitive. Simply putting your name and the name of your company into a search engine regularly will tell you a lot about your web presence!

5. Focus and Ignore the Noise
There are so many conversations taking place and so much interesting content that it easy to be distracted.  This is where your plan comes in – remind yourself what you are trying to say and the communities you want to address.  Stick to the plan – but review it at regular intervals as you get to understand more about social media.  You can streamline your plan to better target individuals and the communities that you need to be a part of. It also saves time – social media is so enjoyable to use it can be the greatest time waster in the world!

Above all remember –  “If content is king, then conversationion is queen.” – John Munsell, CEO of Bizzuka

A CHECKLIST FOR TEAM CONFIDENCE:HOW PREPARED IS YOUR TEAM FOR MANAGING THE CHANGE

People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. And that light is the light of Confidence!

Think about football – talent and hard work alone do not win games. To be a consistent winner a player must have a winning attitude. An attitude that will begin with and comes from self confidence – confidence that they and their teammates can get the job done.

For a team managing change that same self-confidence is required.  Here is a short check list to establish whether your team will have confidence to manage the change! .

Positivity –  Do you and your team think positively?  How does the team react to negativity?  What happens to pessimism in your team?  Does the team challenge negativity in themselves and in their fellow team members?  Do you have strategies for challenging negativity?   Everyone makes the odd mistake, so do not dwell on the negative. The key is to relax and manage the outcome. Fear of failure creates negative tension, but desire to excel and succeed creates positive reactions.

Clarity –  Are your team clear about the vision and the objectives of the change?  Do they have a picture in their head of the end state?  Have you painted that picture for them?  Do they believe in it?  Can they all state the vision and really mean it?  Can they focus on it?

Focus – Are you and your team clearly focused on the task ahead?  Do you know how to maintain focus?  How does the team deal with distractions – do they challenge each other? Concentration will always be better if you have prepared and planned

Preparation – Have you put the right team together? Are there enough team members and are they well prepared for the task?  Do they have the right balance of skills and experience?  What about the mix of personalities – do you have your completer-finisher as well as your resource investigator, plant etc etc?    Have they sufficient resources for the job?

Leadership Are you set up to lead them?  Have you done this before?  Do you have learning needs?  Do you have plan for meeting them?  Have you got a mentor – an experienced change manager to guide you – remember people feel flattered if you ask them to be a mentor.   How will you monitor positivity, clarity and focus in your team, as the project progresses?  Have you built relationships with you team to support this?  Do you know how you will reinforce confident behavior – a word from you will make a huge difference to their morale.

Remember as Henry Ford said  “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”  Have confidence and lead your team to success.

HOW TO BE A MASTER OF CHANGE

It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.  ~W. Edwards Deming

Change always comes bearing gifts.  ~Price Pritchett

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.  ~Confucius

Nothing is more inevitable than change!  From the day we are born to the day we die, we and those about us,  change constantly!  Sometime this is slow and and subtle – from youth to middle age!  Sometimes its dramatic and quick – winning the lottery or a serious accident!  But most change is about adapting to the circumstances round us!

What is it about the present that brings us such a feeling of security? It certainly isn’t because we have a record of world peace, prosperity for all, crimeless streets, complete happiness, etc. If we look at the state of the world, and even of our own personal reality, one would think that change would be welcomed with open arms. So, what’s the issue?  Well we understand where we are now – at least we think we do!  Certainly we understand our immediate circumstances.  We know how to act – we know the dangers and we know where to find the good things.

With change comes uncertainly and risk!  We won’t know the rules anymore!  We don’t know where the monsters are!  We might lose the map to the good things!  But change can be wonderful – look at some of the positive things that have happened over the last few years from the Berlin Wall falling to the advances in technology that have made global inter-connectivity a reality!

What has has happened recently is that the speed of change has risen dramatically for us and everything about us!  Change is being fueled by a whole range of factors from technology to economics and politics.  These changes are bringing new demands for goods and service – but as new markets open, inevitably, some markets close.  If we are going to survive then we need then we need change competence in ourselves and in our organisations.  What is change competence?

For an individual it means the ability to scan the world around us, learn from it and adapt!  For an organization the competencies are similar but putting them into practice is more complex.

A business organization has mastered change when it can successfully and consistently perform on each of the eight dimensions of competence listed below:

  1. Knowing when to Change
    An organization with change competence stays tuned to the business environment and its own internal business situation.  It will constantly monitor the change around it and  identify the right time to begin its own change
  2. Keeping the Vision Fresh
    An organization that has mastered change will keep live a  Vision for a more successful future that relates to a detailed and valid business model that can be achieved with a high degree of confidence because of the organization’s track record of change.
  3. Planning and Resourcing the Vision
    An organization with a strong change competence will ensure that all the resources needed for the change are made available.   The change-competent organization will develop a change plan that will meet organizational needs while accommodating work needs of managers and employees.
  4. Engaging the Organization in the Vision
    An organization that has mastered change will work to engage all staff in the Vision,  The change-competent organization will describe the impending change and what is required to meet the organization’s success targets in sufficient detail to convince about the worth of the change.
  5. Enlisting the Organization in the Change Process
    An organization that has mastered change will sign up all those needed to make the Change on target, on time, and on budget.  The change-competent organization will make arrangements as needed to ensure that Change Work and existing work can both be accomplished without compromising the motivation of the workforce or service to customers.
  6. Changing the Operating Model
    A change-competent organization will change over to the new way of working with most of the performance bugs all worked through in advance of the change.  Recognize that there will be bugs – chase out what you can and contingency plan for others.  Warn your customers you are making the change but do your very best to make sure they don’t feel it!
  7. Stopping the Old Work
    An organization that has mastered change will stop doing work the old way and shut down those parts of the operation that are no longer in sync with the Vision.  The change-competent organization will not wait until evidence of old operations forces them to complete the shutdown of the old way of doing business.
  8. Refining New Work to the Needed Level
    A change-competent organization will work rapidly to refine their changed operations to reach the targeted and needed level of performance. The change-competent organization will not wait for customer or investor feedback to stimulate and motivate them to get it right!