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June 6, 2008 | Wine Industry Trends | WineDirect Admin

Embracing Change

A few years ago I worked for a company who put the senior management team through a course in Change Management.

The course was intended to teach participants about how they personally managed themselves (emotionally & professionally) through change – as well as how to identify and help others manage through change. There were 60 of us in the course, and nearly all of us managed staff of anywhere from 5 to 100+ people. While the company itself wasn’t actively implementing any major changes at the time, the course was relevant nonetheless: change is constantly happening around us and is a natural part of both personal and professional growth. For our company to continue successfully down the path we were seeking, the ability to do so in an efficient and effective manner was critical.

The course was fascinating and I’ve found myself referencing back to it on a number of occasions. Now, in my role here at Inertia, I find the skills I learned in this course to be very helpful. We are a small, young and very energetic company. By nature, we as a group tend to desire change – every day we are working hard to affect changes to our own business, our clients’ businesses, and ultimately an entire industry with very deep, traditional roots. But our ability to recognize and assist through change those we are working so hard for (our clients, partners, and the wine consumer in general), is how we will best affect the growth and end goals we seek for all.
 

THE PHASES OF ACCEPTING CHANGE
In the course, we learned that not only are there ‘phases’ to accepting and engaging in change, but that not everyone makes it through all phases – or even needs to – on their way to ultimately accepting change.

The phases are as follows:

  1. Awareness – of why the change is needed
  2. Desire – to support and participate in the change
  3. Knowledge – of how to change
  4. Ability – to implement new skills and behaviors
  5. Reinforcement – to sustain the change

Some people are more prone to desire or accept change than others, and may skip directly from the 1st phase (awareness that change is needed) to the 4th or 5th. Others, get stuck in the 1st phase, resisting the acceptance of why the change is needed at all. Regardless of how a person makes it through each of the phases, the ability for a company to efficiently grow is dependent upon the ability for all employees to help implement and re-enforce the changes necessary for growth.

I managed a staff of 20+ at the time. The deeper we got into the course, the better I understood my own style of change (I tend to hit every phase, and can move more quickly through some phases than others). More importantly, however, was the insight I gained into why certain members of my staff were either struggling through some of the individual projects they were working on, or were having more challenges than others in group project work. Suddenly, I had a much clearer picture of my entire division and where the stop gaps were on our path to reaching our goals. And, I believe I became a more effective manager because I was able to better understand my employees needs; some simply needed more information or discussion on why change was happening, others needed more guidance on how to implement the change, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, Inertia had what could be identified as major change, occur. A new CEO joined our team, and the organizational structure of the executive management team subsequently adjusted. As noted earlier, we are a company actively seeking change, and working daily to affect it. As a result, the ‘change’ brought with Ted Jansen’s arrival was anything but major. Instead, it was welcomed as the next step in our natural growth and as a way to help open doors for even more change. I’m looking forward to the continued growth of our company and to being a part of the exciting changes taking place in the wine industry today. The times they are a-changin’!

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