Why change must be handled carefully in the PSNI

Roger Gilpin; Gilpin Executive SearchThis week’s newspapers are filled with speculation over who might replace Matt Baggott, after the PSNI Chief Constable announced he was to retire from the high profile role this year.

The publications examined potential candidates in turn and assessed whether they were the “right person for the job”.

Ultimately the change period is difficult for businesses and it will potentially take time for any new CEO or Director (including a Chief Constable, in this case) to make an impact and demonstrate why they are, indeed, the “right person for the job”.

With a new business leader comes new visions and preferences, and may mean that staff will be unsettled at first. Business performance may be affected as employees get used to the new way of thinking and working.

How can a company ensure then that change is successfully handled? Here are my ‘Four Cs’ for positive change management:

Context: A new manager needs to understand the organisation’s current corporate culture. This will help to comprehend where the company is now and what, if anything, needs to change.

Consult: Ask questions before making sweeping changes. The existing team needs to feel part of the company’s future and seeking input will establish faith and respect from the beginning. Ask what they would like from you as a new leader.

Clarity: Equally, while you want to feel a part of the team, remember you are there to lead the team. Be clear about what you expect from employees too.

Communication: Any new director should spend a lot of time communicating to the management team their vision for the company. It is important for staff to understand what and how things might change. It is also vital they know why things are changing.

Senior roles irrefutably matter to the performance of any company, so they need to balance short-term requirements with strategic long-term goals.

Change isn’t easy, however, and like any other high profile role, it will take a while for the new Chief Constable (whomever he or she may be) to gain the respect of management, employees, the board and the public alike.

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Roger Gilpin is Partner at Gilpin Executive Search. He can be contacted on Twitter @GilpinESD

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