Managing Change

Anne runs our popular Change Management courses in Brighton, helping businesses understand how to implement change with that has a lasting effect.

When planning and managing change, people often focus on the project plan and benefits the change will bring, without really thinking through what really creates change. Redesigning the organisational structure, giving people new titles, and producing slick presentations can help produce the illusion of change, but what’s really different?

managing-change

Change comes about when people behave differently – and therein lays the difficulty in managing change. Most change programmes are logical in approach – actions are decided, milestones planned, fancy reporting graphs are prepared, and sometimes, just sometimes, success criteria and evidenced outcomes are identified. But how much of this leads to true change? Because this is the real issue – people are not rational. They may acknowledge the big ideas, the proposed benefits, and project plan, but what they are really interested in is “what’s in it for me?”, or even more often “what have I got to lose?”. Because deep down that’s what many people associate change with – loss.

This loss may be about comfort zone, learning new skills, career or status issues, or just knowing how things are done now. In any team or department a range of these reactions will apply. The result is that the organisation may look different, but underneath people are working hard to maintain the status quo; they haven’t quite got around to that next action; the system is in place, but there are teething problems; we did things the old way this once because it was quicker; we haven’t got time for change.

So there are three golden rules to follow:

Make time to help people change

Anticipate how people will react, and spend time both pre-empting and addressing these reactions. This means understanding what motivates people, what they value, and what they fear losing. Then identifying just what support, training, and occasionally strong guidance, is needed for people to begin to behave in ways that underpin the change. Lastly time needs to be made for people to make the changes; early attempts at doing things differently, however small, must be acknowledged and rewarded; evidence of sliding back into old habits gently chastised. And this is at all levels – change really does need to be modelled from the top and support (and change!) from the very top of the organisation is crucial.

Remember organisational change is never in isolation

A change programme led by one department or project must interact with other parts of organisational operations; for example working practises, reward structures, work flows, financial practices or processes that exist around the change target will also need to change to support new ways of working. Often these are outside the control of those leading or designing the change, so alliances, negotiations and stakeholder planning is key to changing the environment, and helping people to change what they do.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

No matter how much you think you have told others, it’s not what you sent out that counts, but what people actually received. In times of change peoples’ capacity to hear and understand is often reduced, so keep reinforcing the message, publicise quick wins, and be honest about what’s causing problems. As a general rule, you need to triple your planned communication to make it really sink in.

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