If you’ve read any of my previous articles you will have noticed that I often write about different aspects of leadership, change, and change management. Whether you’re already acquainted with the concept of change management or are just beginning to learn and understand its significance, I’m here to help demystify the term and show you how you can apply change management to your organization. Some of the questions I aim to tackle when I share about change management are:
Many leaders believe that managing change in business is as simple as announcing the change and drafting a project plan. The reality is far more complicated. Change is an inherent part of human existence, and while it’s inevitable, navigating it effectively requires a special approach. I even argue it requires a mindset.
While organizations face constant change (don’t we all?), they don’t always do it well – and they often don’t realize they haven’t done it well! Change in organizations comes in many forms:
It’s a continuous process – to be in business is to change and adapt to the world around us. And at the center of every change are the people who are being affected. And guess what, where there are people there is complexity and the messiness of human nature!
Organizations are living organisms. They are made up of intricate pieces – each person in the organization is a piece of that organization. During a change in an organization, you are dealing with multiple levels of employees – the executive suite, the middle managers, the employees on the front lines, and possibly your outside partners and customers. Each person facing a change will have a reaction to that change. Some of these reactions can be predicted, others can’t.
This is where the expertise of a Change Management practitioner comes in. We are trained with a certain lens and language and so we see things with a different perspective, one that is focused on observing the impact and accounting for how people react to the change being introduced. And because we have that expertise, we can anticipate the very human reactions that are coming. Better if we have data to guide us, but we’ve seen and studied enough to see the forest for the trees.
So, let’s play this out. A change is coming (pick your poison: small scale or big scale like the examples above). Each individual going through the change experiences their own range of emotions: resistance, overconfidence, disengagement, letting go, testing, rationalizing and integrating. They must make the change, but as they make the change, these natural human reactions to change emerge.
A key aspect of a Change Management practitioner’s job is to shorten the duration of what a business would consider negative emotional states – reactions. These states are unavoidable and expected but can have negative impacts on business objectives. The goal for a Change Management practitioner is to manage and minimize the depth and duration of disengagement. Disengagement has true business impacts and can affect not just the success of a change initiative but profitability and viability of an organization.
Sounds kind of daunting, right? It can be. That’s where I come in to work with the leaders of the people affected by the change. I break it down so each leader can focus on the people in their organization to divide the effort and be more effective. I begin by helping leaders to understand and manage their own change reactions and help close the gaps in understanding and readiness to execute changes effectively. Over time, those leaders develop their own mindset for change and will be equipped with a similar lens through which I see business changes.
With this approach, yes, I reduce the reliance on me to bring management to a change because I have equipped the leaders to do it on their own. Bad for my business? Not to me – that’s why I’m in this work: to help make the world a better place to work. I believe the way to do that is for more of us to see the world through a change management lens. I’d love to teach you how!
Change Management professionals are experts in the change process. Successful Change Management is not a DIY process. Until you have developed the right mindset, it requires knowledge and skills from an experienced Change Management professional. What does your company risk in letting change “happen naturally” and not addressing the very real and human emotions of the people that work for you?
Positive Delta specializes in working with small and midsize firms and brings the “large scale corporate experience” to smaller organizations. Our strength is bringing a people focus to a systematic change. Even if you think your organization is too small for Change Management, I can show you the way. Positive Delta uses a data-driven process to flip your focus to people right from the start. If your company is undergoing change or you’d like to learn more reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect.
This article was originally published by Adrienne Guerrero on LinkedIn.