Change Management. Are we ever going to get it right?
By definition, progress means change. This is not always comfortable. It may challenge our assumptions and the way we are used to doing and seeing things. It asks us to have trust in the bigger picture, the eventual results and each other. We need energy to deal with it and perspective and sometimes just a sense of humour.” Sheldon Levy
Ever heard the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail?” Well, it is no different when it comes to change management. When I speak to clients, many have one thing in common, a poorly executed change management plan. I am not talking about the technical aspect of the plan. No, I am referring to the people side of change management, which, is an integral part of the overall success, but often is left behind.
Why is this? Could it be due to the lack of understanding, lack of internal capability or could it be because, for some reason, HR is not involved in this process? Perhaps your workforce have change fatigue?
In this process of transitioning individuals, teams and an organisation from a current to a future state, one often gets lost in the technical detail. From a human perspective, it is important to understand that an employee’s capacity to change could be influenced by how that change is presented to them. Meaning, if communicated poorly, their ability to adapt to the change will not necessarily be as effective, especially in light of any confusion, misunderstanding or resistance that exists among staff.
Frequent and timely communication cannot be under-estimated during this process, even if the plan has changed tenfold or there has been little change since your last communication. In fact, you can never over-communicate. You need to be visible and available.
Change is a natural part of existence and therefore companies need to evolve to sustain itself in an increasingly competitive market. You cannot control organisational change, but what you can do is control the way you respond to it.
Change management can be complex, but it is an essential part of transformation, progress and growth and the accountability rests with Managers due to it being a people process (with support from HR). You have to own it. Success depends on how well you do it, so either it will be effective, where you bring everyone on the journey with you or it could be, simply speaking, catastrophic. All organisations go through change; it is the scale and scope of change that differs. Change is not linear. Building the capacity to change is a strategic imperative and is an evolutionary process and it is in your best interest to bring everyone on the journey with you.
As Managers, we recommend that you:
Make sure that you are equipped to deal with it
Know how your role as Manager fits into the change process
Are able to recognise behaviours associated with resistance to change
Win over the hearts and minds of your people
Whether change is prompted by external or internal factors, creating a vision will clarify the direction for the change. Your change management plan has to be agile and it does not need to be perfect.
Ignoring the people aspect of this very important process may result in the following:
Loss of leadership and Manager credibility
High staff turnover during and / or post transition
Lack of accountability (blame transfer)
Significant drop in productivity
Get to change how your people think and feel and you will turn negative and counter-productive behaviour around. Before embarking on managing change with your team, you need to invest some time by getting some upfront information. You cannot expect your team to understand the change, if you are not on-board yourself.
Challenge yourself, by asking the following:
Do I understand the change and the reasons behind it?
What assumptions am I making?
Am I speaking to the right people to get the right information?
Who is in my circle of influence?
What can I control and what sits outside of my control?
Am I supportive of the decisions my leaders make, irrespective whether I agree with those decisions or not?
Am I role modelling my leadership skills every day?
Do I need a mentor or a coach?
How can I add value during this process?
Should I use this change as a development opportunity?
Ask yourself: “What would a great leader do in my situation?”
Do I know the changes, their impact, reasoning and benefits?
Could I explain them to anyone I work with?
Do I personally believe in these changes?
If not, what can I do different to ensure I bring my team on the journey of change?
How will this change impact on existing workload?
Am I clear on my responsibility as change agent?
When is communication necessary and what should that look like?
In order to bring individuals on-board, they will need to understand:
What they need to do.
Why they are doing it (benefits) - If people understand the benefits of change, they are more likely to participate in the change.
How it aligns with team and organisation strategy.
As already mentioned, the underlying basis of change management is that people’s capacity to change can be influenced by how change is presented to them. Change starts at the top and leaders must be the visionaries, champions and role models for change. Whether change comes easily or proves difficult to achieve depends on the organisational culture and climate that you as leader create. There is a natural assumption that all leaders support change and that these leaders know what needs to be done to make change successful, but this is often not the case.
Bring your leaders on the journey with you, and then start communicating. Communication is a key way of keeping staff engaged. Effective and frequent communication minimises disruption and distraction.
“The ultimate measure of a man in not where he stands at the moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”.
Martin Luther King, Jnr
Premier HR can support your business with Change Management – speak to us about our programs.
Adele Heraty, Barrett Values Centre Culture Assessor, Premier HR
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