One of the Keys to dealing with change is understanding that it is here to stay. Change is not some fad that came around in the 1990’s and then went away.
Organizations that build this nation into the psyche of employees will fare better than those that do not, and individuals capable of harnessing the power of change will likely have better careers than those who fear it.
In the first part of Welch’s tenure as CEO, he implemented many drastic changes that shook GE to the Core. In the midst of it all, one GE manager asked Welch when he could tell his employees that change is over. “Tell them that change is never over” responded the GE chairman in no uncertain terms. Here was Welch, once again, facing reality, and telling a manager to do the same.
Welch did not invent change, nor was he the first manager to understand the importance of dealing with it in a proactive manner. However, there may be no CEO who has ever guided such a large organization through such a complex labyrinth of change for so many years. Time and again, he reinvented the company, and time and again the employees went along with it. Had he not been such an effective leader, or had he not prepared his company for perpetual change, he would have had a far more difficult time getting everyone to go along.
One of the ways that he prepared employees for change was to incorporate the very concept into the values of the organization. “see change as an opportunity, not a threat” has been a vital part of GE’s shared values for years. But that was not enough. Welch and GE enlisted the help of his managers to incorporate change into the fabric of the organization.
“CAP,” or “Change Acceleration Program,” was implemented by Welch to help drive change throughout the organization. Although he started with senior managers, he also provided other managers with the tools and training they needed to engineer and drive change throughout the company.
You don’t have to be a senior manager to help spark others to deal with change. Here are some ideas:
Face reality and know that change is here for good: Unless you accept this notion, and embrace it, it will be impossible for you to spread the word.
Suggest an informal “Change meeting”: Since change is always here, there are things that you and your company should be doing right now to prepare for the changes (e.g., developing new products, new marketing ideas, etc.). By sitting down and discussing them, you may get a leg up on the competition.
Think short-term and long-term change: One of Welch’s strengths was his prescience. To truly stay one step ahead, devise one year and three-year plans based on differing scenarios.
Acknowledgement: The Welch Way book by Jeffrey A. Krames