How to Earn Commitment - Mastering People Management

Managers’ best-laid plans will come to nothing if employees do not rally behind them. That’s also true for successful change management and implementation. Organizations must be honest, unsavory as it sometimes may be, in order to ensure full support from the inside. As Professors Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne explain, even if the employees favour change, without fair process, the managers will have a tough road ahead.

by Renée Mauborgne,Chan Kim
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Good management begins with a basis of understanding, and a person who can master the art of management will understand that there is a basic human need to be valued as a human being and not merely as a “resource.”

If organizations have a good understanding of that, then they also comprehend the importance of fair process in change management, say Chan Kim (The Boston Consulting Group Bruce D. Henderson Chaired Professor of International Management at INSEAD) and Renée Mauborgne (INSEAD Distinguished Fellow and Affiliate Professor of Strategy and Management).

They explain that engagement, explanation and clarity are the three bedrocks of fair process, and they offer several examples of what happens when people feel their intellectual and emotional recognition has been violated through a lack of fair process. They react with counter–effects, which the authors call “retributive justice,” seeking to redress the situation by not only demanding a return to fairness but also by imposing a penalty for their unfair treatment.

For example, at the troubled Siemens-Nixdorf Informationssyteme (SNI), the CEO honestly shared the issues facing him and the organization. While the bleak picture he presented wasn’t pretty, people understood the reality and appreciated the fact that he showed them respect. They, in turn, reciprocated.

On the other hand, while British Airways enjoyed full planes and high profits, its manager decided to implement a new cost-control exercise. Executives offered no explanations, instead they simply issued a directive. Employees were taken by surprise, at what they considered to be an absence of managerial trust, and ended up striking.

The authors explain these examples and more in greater detail, and then suggest that managers pose some key questions to put fair processes in place:<UL>

<LI>Are people asked to freely participate in decisions that impact them?

<LI>Is this process consultative and iterative?

<LI>Is the rationale for the final decision clearly understood by all?

</UL>

They explain that people can accept pain if they understand the need for it and as long as the new rules are stated clearly. Thus, understanding and respecting the concept of fair process can lead to an effective change.

Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2003

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