Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Change Management: Tool of Suppression

Kotter Enhancement
Stage 4
Kotter Enhancement
Stage 4
Kotter Enhancement
Stage 5

The Empowerment Delusion
Kotter's stage 5 is called Empowering employees for broad based action.  This is where the "theory versus practice" problem really takes over.  This stage sounds great in theory, but breaks down in practice.  One of two things generally happen during the implementation of a change initiative.  The change plan is either ...

1.  too exclusive, a.k.a. "they never consulted us," or
2.  too inclusive, a.k.a. "they didn't think this through."

For leaders, you're damned if you do
and damned if you don't.  

You are the "perplexed" sign in the picture at the beginning of this post.  And I don't blame all leaders ... it can be very frustrating to introduce change when your experience is that it is a "no-win" situation because you can't make everyone happyI think this is why Gail Severini, aka the change whisperer, classifies empowerment as a mastery level skill.

The leader's change plan is too macro in nature.  It does not take into account the diverse local issues in different parts of the organization.  Consequently, middle managers and employees say "this is just stupid" and figure out the minimum requirements they need to satisfy upper management to make this change go away.

Boundaries & Guidelines
The enhancement for stage 5 is ...

Agree on Boundaries & Guidelines for
Empowerment (horizontal and vertical)

If I asked you to show me how your organization works and how your budget supports that, you could probably show me your strategy, an organizational chart, a table with some numbers, and perhaps, a flowchart explaining how it all works.  If I asked you to show me how empowerment works, I would probably hear about it, but not really see how it works.   

As long as empowerment remains
in the realm of the intangible,
it will continually fail.

How Empowerment Works (or doesn't)
Let me illustrate for why it is difficult for managers to empower.

If management does not provide enough direction and control, the change creates chaos.  This is NOT desirable.

If management provides too much direction and control, then employees cry foul saying, "they say we're empowered but they just keep on making all decisions."

The Nonlinear Challenge
For most managers, the business side of the organization (i.e. accounting) is far easier than the human side of the organization (i.e. attitudes, motivation, etc.).  One main difference between these two parts of the organization is that one is linear while the other is nonlinear.

Linearity demands maximization.  Every managers tries to keep their budget as low as possible, while trying to raise revenues as much as possible.

The challenge:  finding out and agreeing upon what "too little" or "too much" direction and control means in your organization.  The lines differ by organization and culture.  Agreement is the key.  Without setting boundaries and guidelines that people believe are fair, empowerment fails far more than 70% of the time ... more like 100% of the time.

Two-Way Communication
The enhancement for Stage 4 is ...

Communicate the change vision interactively

The following graphic describes the drive behind all the individuals in your organization.  If I'm a frontline contributor, three perspectives top any organizational change initiative:
- See more at:


Post a Comment

Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC; more resources at BlogXpertise