No gain without change

No gain without change

Getty ImagesChange is inevitable yet people are reluctant to change. For example, in the earlier days, when banks introduced Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) , which are accessible 24 hours a day, people were not too keen to use these. However, customers gained confidence when they began to use these and found them very convenient. Thus any change,  be it technology, process, rules or procedure will have to be introduced gradually and in consultation with the users.

Needless to state, these should be user-friendly. We cannot have change per se. It should serve some useful purpose. All intended changes will have to be put under the scanner just to make sure these are needed, user or  environmentally friendly and improved quality of life. Mere cosmetic changes that use up scarce materials are a luxury we could live without.

Successful change management is the true test of leadership quality since change is not only about the present but of the future too.

The fact is change is inevitable whether one likes it or accepts it or not. Those who wait for a while before accepting a change are disappointed that it won’t go away by itself or wished away. For instance, banks have more or less changed over to electronic banking. In other words, the good old paper passbook is slowly but surely giving place to online access to one’s bank account. Any time such information is available only to the user who has a secure password. By the click of the mouse the information could be printed out in a matter of seconds.

A few diehard conservative customers are wary about internet banking. “What if someone breaks into my account and cleaned it up?” That is indeed a genuine fear, which cannot be dismissed, as there are stray cases where crooks have broken into the personal and confidential password codes of customers and used up all the money in customers’ account. However, these isolated examples need not deter one from going in for Internet banking, taking all possible precautions to safeguard’s password being secure and confidential. Nevertheless, a few conservative minded persons cling to the old way of life with a hope changes would pass over them. Unfortunately, such a hope is belied.

The good news is the fact that the majority of the users want a change that makes their lives easier. Who does not want payment through the ECS system, which is automatic and hassle free? One does not have to stand in long lines for hours to pay a bill or get penalised if the due date of payment is over. Change is imperative, because without change a rot would set in. That is exactly what happened to ancient civilisations, corporations, leaders and even ordinary citizens. The only way to stay ahead of the game is to constantly change.

They need tools and inspiration to change to meet future challenges. Instead of fighting a change, that could be in the their own interests, people should accept any change, perceived to be useful, willingly and enthusiastically. There is no doubt a certain degree of inertia before one realises the need for change. “Why should I accept that change? What’s in it for me? Will it bring any benefit to meet me at all?” are some of the questions nagging someone faced with a change.

Two-way communication would help in such a situation. Often it is the fear of any change rather than the change itself that is holding back people from accepting the change voluntarily and without any pre-conceived notions. How to make people accept a change without any problem is a matter of deep study and willingness on the part of the change-maker to be open and learn from experiences. Perforce that persons should be willing to listen to the objections or  suggestions by those who are being targeted for change. Job rotation and multi-tasking were once considered against the interests of employees. However, the management could convince the employees it is for their good as it improved their chance of promotion inside the organisation and their ‘marketability’ outside, if found inevitable. Involvement of the people concerned makes acceptance of a change easier as the people are convinced it’s for their good. Marketing a change is a matter of skill and sincerity. People do not appreciate ad hoc changes that are thrust upon them due to the whims of a CEO, manager, administrator, or political leadership. The change-seeker should assume there would be always some resistance to any change, as people do not accept a change quickly and that too voluntarily. There should be transparent honesty to listen and take action when people complain about changes that are hard to abide by. Any promise made to remedy a lacuna should be followed up sincerely. We should congratulate ourselves that in a vast country like ours, with low level of literacy, introduction of an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) instead of a paper ballot and manual counting was possible due to the homework done by the people in the Election Commission. This dramatic change has saved paper and the results are out quickly instead of slow and laborious counting of paper ballots manually. In fact we are a step ahead of some of the advanced countries in this regard. Even the uneducated could easily understand and follow the routine for voting on the EVM.

Here are a few tips that could smoothen introduction of change in any milieu:

* Involve the likely affected employees at the earliest stage of planning
* Have frank and open discussion
* Take practical suggestions from the participants
*Have training sessions and remove apprehensions
* Have a trial period
* Remove bugs discovered
*  Be a friend and guide to help out those who have problems of with the change
* There could be initial reluctance for change. Try to accommodate those who are slow change accepters
* Make improvements in the system by taking suggestions from those affected by the change

(The writer is Consultant Q & M, E-mail: dbnvimi@gmail.com)

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