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I am a new Executive Director in an established NGO but changes are needed internally to improve upon old, out-dated practices and staff who are reluctant to change their behaviour and attitudes. What is the best way to handle this situation?

Change management is a difficult aspect of a Director’s job and needs to be handled with sensitivity, especially if you are to take your staff with you rather than create upset and discord. Overall, most people do not like change. They feel threatened by it and often can feel unsettled and insecure because they are entering unknown territory. Basically, managing change is being able to move an organisation forward from its current state to a desired future state.

The challenge is that as you introduce change into the organisation, you also need to manage the impact of this change on the people who may be affected by the change. You are in effect, wanting to move the organisation from point A to point B but along the way, you need to put in place steps to help individuals impacted by the change, to adopt a new way of working and to be able to transition into this successfully.

The key to change management therefore is communication, clarity, and managing expectations. You may want to improve reporting systems to donors, or it may be systems used to thank supporters, or even time management or programme management.

Whatever changes you seek to make, it is vital that you consult your team and get their feedback on different aspects of work. After you have done this, you will be better equipped to make decisions on the best way forward and the changes that need to be made.

After this, you can communicate the changes you feel are needed and also put in places phases for the various changes so that things are introduced gradually. For big changes, continue to talk to your team to understand how they are dealing with the changes and provide training if needed.

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