Managing Change Without Authority

This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Ingrid Holbik 1 year, 7 months ago.

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    Renata Porto

    For the past few months, I have been my department’s lead for an integration project. We were acquired a few years ago by a much larger company, but only now we are being fully integrated. Note, I am not leading the integration at a corporate level, but simply at the department level (i.e. integration of processes, systems, functional onboarding, etc). In my experience, the overall integration efforts have been quite disorganized: not enough has been communicated to staff of both companies, decisions that should have already been made are still to be made, staff has been placed in an environment of high uncertainty for too long,etc. I have often escalated my concerns to more senior leaders but have seen no improvements. So I would like to hear from others who have been asked to execute specific integration efforts with very little guidance and/or authority, and not enough support from the business. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


    Erik Cornelius

    In my experience, sometimes your best option is to act like you have the authority to provide that guidance.

    While this doesn’t work in all corporations or for all decisions, if there’s a decision-making vacuum and you lack the personal power to make the decisions, act as though you have the authority and begin acting in accordance with what you think the decision ought to be. At that point, one of the following should happen:

    * Best case, your decision is respected and the results are carried out
    * Less good case, someone else disagrees with the decision and says what should REALLY be happening, at which point the decision is made and there’s clear guidance (even if your original decision isn’t respected)
    * Worst case, someone else says you’re not allowed, but nobody actually makes the decision

    I usually get one of the first two as a result, as either it provides the necessary guidance or lights a fire under the person who should be making the decision. I will say, however, that it can result in some hard conversations, depending on how territorial the functional manager who *should* make the decision is!


    Dale Deg

    Assuming that you were asked/tasked with the tole of being your department’s lead for the integration, I would assume someone with authority had to select you. I would suggest documenting what you have done and been trying to do in a summary format and presenting it to that person. That shouldn’t be done in a complaining way but in a factual way, reporting the key items on the department’s integration action items, what the statuses are and what needs to be done. If there are management levels between you and the person that picked you, copy the others, so they don’t get surprised or think you are going “around them”. Even this carries some risks but might get people who are using passive-aggressive methods to undermine the transition moving.


    Once you are acquired, normally the acquirer will have the more say on decisions making. Sometime the acquirer management team is less experience than you but welcome to the real world. The acquirer will always try to be dominant in management decisions although sometimes their decisions will lead you into trouble. Wait for the right time to react and never run down your superior although you know that your experience is better than him. Participate in department meetings and minute it properly. Finally what you advice will go to the grapevine and finally to the top.


    Ingrid Holbik


    Perhaps you have already done this; have you considered asking to help the integration lead? Often times, communication through a question or olive branch is better received? Recognizing you probably have enough work, this may be an opportunity for you to change your role into more things that you prefer to work in.

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