• Change Management Means Changing Management

by Melissa Mendes Campos and Luis Vergara

Managing change is one thing. Changing how you manage is everything.

If you think change management is something you can do in your organization without rethinking your work as a manager, you’re mistaken. We have to change ourselves, our behaviors, and our relationships to change our organizations. We ARE the organization!

Organizational culture is a huge part of change management. Leaders set the tone for the culture, and managers have a key role in reinforcing that culture — whether for good or for ill. Thus, to effectively manage organizational change, we need to take an inward look at management.

As the sector turns greater attention toward equity and inclusion, both in its work and at work, it’s easy to see that questions of how we manage — and who manages — are inextricably linked to organizations’ ability to adapt, evolve, and live into their values.

In more than a few cases, we’ve seen organizations’ pursuit of “DEI work” create a new opportunity to open up management practice to examination in a way that might not have been possible otherwise. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been significant racial or intersectional dynamics to be addressed, but that some of the shortcomings surfaced using that focusing lens are similar (if not identical) to issues of everyday, garden-variety poor management.

This is just one significant way that nonprofits are becoming more self-aware and reflective, but it’s still just a first step. Once we scratch the surface, we quickly find that change challenges existing power dynamics, and that things either “get real” real fast, or veer away from meaningful conversations toward safer ground. One of the ways we must challenge ourselves in managing organizational change is to be willing to rethink power and participation in the management of our own organizations.

For a start, we need to be honest about our existing leadership and management skills — not only those demonstrated by managers, but those untapped or undeveloped among other staff members. After all, we need every one of us to do the important work we do as a sector! This also requires that we be open to diverse ways of managing. It may not be “how we’re used to doing things,” but isn’t that the point?

The old familiar approaches we’ve used to get here aren’t necessarily the ones we need to take us to the next level.

There is always more to learn and put into action to be more effective as the environment we work in changes, and as the workforce changes. In this broader context, change management isn’t just about implementing a new strategic plan or organizational structure. It’s being open to changing management itself.

 

Tags: demographics, diversity, human resources, management, organizational culture, organizational structure, strategy, sustainability, vision, workplace

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