A CEO of a high-tech company told me today his story of managing change. The company has doubled in size over the past three years. Alex decided to split the company into two business units, headed by two new senor vice presidents. From a structural perspective, it made sense.
Rather than promote from within, however, he brought in two people from the outside whom he felt would change the company’s culture. He wanted more discipline and management expertise, he told me. The problem is that the people who used to report to Alex are chafing. They don’t feel respected for the work they’ve done. They miss the direct access and the open culture. They feel the new structure isn’t working.
“What can I do?” Alex asked me.
First, I said, think about managing change. That’s your role. How are you communicating why the new structure is important and the value it will have for the company? What are you doing to make sure everyone understands?
“I know I’m not doing enough,” he said.
I also talked about his leadership style. “In the old structure, you were comfortable directing people and telling them what to do.” That won’t work in this new structure, I told him.
He listened as I went on. “You’re the one who has to change. Otherwise, you’ll undercut your new senior vice presidents. You’ve got to be their coach. As a coach, you can’t tell them what to do. You have to ask them good questions, and get them to assume responsibility for making the change work successfully.”
He thought about it for a while, asked a few questions, and then said: “It makes a lot of sense. How could you help us?”
“I could help the three of you develop a game plan for managing change. I think that would have enormous impact.”
“Great!” he said. “When can we start?”
LRI’s consulting is designed to achieve real, meaningful change for our clients.