Aug 30, 2004

Change in the time of doing well....

Making improvements when a company is already performing strongly is a tough management challenge. Successful leaders achieve this by fostering internal dissatisfaction with the status quo, writes Professor of Leadership and Organizational Management Jean Francois Manzoni in the Financial Times. Manzoni identifies four factors that promote willingness to change. Gathering feedback from new recruits is a key strategy for fostering change. A major French construction company recently asked new hires to write an "astonishment report" of their first three months on the job, documenting interesting or disconcerting aspects of its operations. A fresh viewpoint can often highlight missed opportunities and hidden problems, notes Manzoni.

Facing reality can also be achieved by recruiting experienced individuals who speak their mind and can be trusted as reliable assessors. Searching for better practices is another key strategy, characterized by benchmarking internally and outside the company. Job mobility and training also promote best practice by encouraging managers to challenge established business patterns, notes the author. Overall these management concepts help to foster a sense of anticipation and pave the way for rapid changes, explains Manzoni. Without such strategies, managers risk wasting a lot of time communicating the need for change, rather than actually driving it, he warns.