Things Change, People Transition: Change as a Process

In general, change isn’t complicated, but it is complex. In its simplest form we use terms like; to alter, shift, adjust, move, switch, transfer, etc. Change is a transformation or transition from one phase, condition, or state, to another.

From a change management perspective, assumptions that each individual impacted by a new initiative will always experience change on time, on budget and on schedule, is flawed, because this approach lacks context and doesn’t always consider the people side of change. It may not consider outcomes and results after the change or ask what behaviors need to change and be sustained. Organizational and personal change have to be approached and measured differently because people embrace or resist change differently. No two are alike.

Organizational and personal change have to be approached and measured differently because no one will embrace or resist change the same. Individual Response to Change Management BestBehavior doesn’t happen in a predictive order and as a result, it is imperative to think about change as a process, rather than a project.

Things change. People transition.

The change curve was created in the 1960’s by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross as a way to explain the grieving process. Over time, it has evolved as a tool to help people understand responses and reactions to significant change. Since change is a non-linear process, some people may take two steps forward and one step back along this curve for a number of reasons. Some examples might include:

  • Assumed or no role clarity for the change
  • No visible support and commitment from leadership
  • Lack of project, organizational and individual change integration
  • Those impacted do not feel they have had input into the process
  • Leaders and/or impacted people are not engaged
  • No consistency in change messaging formats, channels and frequency
  • Lack of transparency about why the change is happening
  • People impacted don’t understanding of “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM)
  • Business readiness or training may have limited or no understanding of adult learning theory application
  • People don’t feel permission to speak with candor
  • Past performance with organizational change could create assumptions that history will repeat itself
  • Impact on current role and/or fear of losing a job

There are countless strategies and tools we can use to help us to understand where people fall on the change commitment curve and then subsequent strategies to take corrective action. As change management practitioners, we focus on results, outcomes, reinforcement and realization of benefits (including ROI), for the people side of change. We do this using a structured, yet flexible set of tools, processes, skills and principles to achieve the required goals of projects and initiatives.

What challenges and approaches have you experienced or used to help bring people impacted by the changes along for the journey?

Please leave a comment below. I’d like this blog to be a forum where people feel comfortable sharing what they agree or disagree with along with best practices or key learnings.I will honor desired anonymity, so if you would like to leave a response without having your name listed, please feel free to let me know. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Engagement: Integrating Change Management with Project Plans

Change Management and Project Plan IntegrationFocusing on the people side of change is arguably one of the most important tasks as we begin phase one of preparing for a change initiative. In early phases of a project, we are seeking to understand the nature of the change and preparing the organization for it. Exceptional change management works when we partner with leadership to ensure timely and consistent messaging, early and often.

According to Prosci’s annual benchmarking research on change, the greatest overall contributor to project success is active and visible sponsorshipAs facilitators’ of the change, we have the unique opportunity to bring sponsors along on the journey at this point, so they understand why their role is critical in mitigating resistance, driving uptake and ensuring positive end-user adoption. We also can provide them with coaching and tools needed to carry out their roles throughout the change process.

As we move towards phase two, managing the change, we need to think about how we are going to engage the project manager for discussion to integrate change deliverables and change activities into the project plan. Building rapport starts with laying out the process of how we will prepare for, manage and reinforce the changes. It is the perfect way to set up role clarity and frame desired outcomes; while ensuring a shared vision.

What is your integration approach in partnering with the project manager for these discussions? Please join the conversation and share your best practices below. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Advanced Change Certification Opportunity in Minnesota – Feb 18-19th

Advanced_Change_Management_OpportunityI am excited about a rare opportunity I wanted to share with my readers. February 18th & 19th, the Minnesota Change Management Network (MNCMN) is hosting a once in a lifetime chance for anyone interested in the people side of change, to participate in conversations, hear and share best practices and receive training about navigating advanced change management at the enterprise level.
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MNCMN is bringing in Global Change Management Thought Leader, Tim Creasey, to host advanced change management certification workshops through Prosci®. Below are high-level details and a link for more details about the agenda and how to register. 
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February 18th & 19th Professional Development Days Agenda:
1. A conversation about the current state of Organizational Agility as Strategy (Executive Breakfast)
2. Creating a roadmap for building an organizational change management capability (Roundtable)
3. Building a business case for change management (Change Summit)
4. Building organizational agility through enterprise change management (Advanced Workshop)
5. Creating a change scorecard (Advanced Workshop)
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For more information, visit the Minnesota Change Management Network Website and select “events.”
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I hope to see you there!

Ritual, Change and Weisbord’s Future Search Conference

Change_Management_Strategy_RitualOrganizational change creates unavoidable uncertainty, resistance and chaos. Systems thinking can help in identifying negative consequences and to achieve positive outcomes. But the impact of transformation requires looking at people, groups and the larger system[1]. By taking this approach, organizations can build change coalitions with employees at all levels. In times of uncertainty it is essential that everyone has the opportunity to provide input and feel empowered to make decisions.[2]

Formal rites of passage or rituals are important and often an overlooked tool to overcome these challenges. Rituals build culture, strengthen relationships and are particularly important for acknowledging challenges, celebrating wins or forging new paths. In times of change, stakeholders often need a way to declare it is time to say goodbye to the old way of doing things because there is no turning back. The idea of farewell as a process can pave the path towards embracing a shared vision for moving forward. Future Search Conference is one example of a tool that can help to successfully facilitate this process.

 

Read more of this post

Transition – Defining “Between”

Transitions - Adapting to ChangeToday’s post is about “between,” which comes in many forms. It made me consider the various ways we process and deal with change. Regardless of its application (professional, emotional or personal), the techniques for recognizing and approaching transition differs for each of us.

Sometimes it flows and feels natural, as captured in the photo for this post. A young man who is between testing for his next belt level in karate and receiving a new status because he is ready and has done the work. He has practiced to learn the movement and techniques with precision and accuracy, and he knows that along with his sense of accomplishment come confidence and the long term rewards that follow.

In graduate school, we are taught that we should expect resistance when it comes to change in the workplace. Opposition is a natural part of the process during transformation and frequently rears its head when people do not understand why change is necessary, or there is not consistent support, repetition and communication of the messaging.

OD experts explain there are symbolic rituals necessary for organizational change that brings everyone along, so they feel as though they are part of the process and have input to the outcome. It is a blueprint that incorporates the right guidance systems so human capital can collectively take a step back, acknowledge their current reality, say goodbye to the old way of doing things while working together to build a future. [1] (Kanter, 2008) The change will be more successful when all stakeholders understand their roles, contribution and call to action.

In our personal lives, navigating transition is more complex because not everyone is given the coping mechanisms for recognizing and dealing with change in healthy ways.

When it comes to how we work through transformation as individuals, there are times when we need to sit with discomfort and uncertainty for a bit as part of our reflection. Often our experience can provide answers and this world is one full of endless possibilities. Although there is a school of thought that might agree it is easier to give help than to ask for it, leveraging our support system is a resource we cannot ignore.

Discomfort is healthy when it motivates us to use our courage and move towards something better. Transition can be the beginning of something exciting and new that will provide opportunities to grow, learn, unlearn, re-think, re-learn, heal, innovate and re-invent.

Awareness of our own resistance to change could come in the form of anxiety, physical discomfort, fear, anger, sadness, insecurities, etc. In time, we learn the best way to overcome any of that is to get input, learn from it and then practice new behaviors until they feel normal.

Someone I know spent a great deal of time trying to work through a process like this. He shared what worked for him while he was struggling. His solutions are below.

Write down the following and reflect on the questions below, one at a time:

  1. “Yes, this change is hard.” (Make a list of what makes it hard for you)
  2. “How can I objectively examine the pros and cons of this situation?
  3. What part of my fear is getting in the way?
  4. How can this experience be my teacher?
  5. What can I do to move forward?

Once those issues had been examined, he found a trusted source to share it with that we will call “his people.” The ones he knew would not judge, give uninvited advice, or try to fix him or the situation. A trusted resource who would just listen. “His people” are the ones who have earned the right to hear his stories. It took practice, but it was amazing to see how the consistency of repeating the action over and over helped him grow.

So if you are finding yourself “between” something and are feeling in transition, perhaps his process could work for you as well. And who knows, you just may be happy you did. Thanks for visiting my blog, share your story or ask questions below, I’d love to hear from you!

[1] Kanter, R.M. (2008). Transforming giants. Harvard Business Review, 86(1), 43-52.

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The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Prompt. Danielle Hark of Broken Light Collective challenges us to photograph between. This week, capture something between two things, reflect on the process of transition, or interpret this word in your own way.

Innovation: The Truth About Creativity

Creativity Pre Orchestra LectureIs Creativity an important component of innovation? Find out here.

I’ve been taking part two of a course based on a book called; The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Brown has spent the past 10-15 years researching topics like courage, vulnerability and authenticity. One of our first assignments was to think about the gifts that come to us as the result of our own creativity.

The book presents fascinating findings about creativity. Brown refers to vulnerability as the birthplace of innovation. She also makes the point that there is no such thing as people who are not creative. Instead, there are resourceful people who know how to tap into their ingenuity, while others don’t. Read more of this post

6 Successful Ways to Influence and Lead Change

6 simple ways to get buy in and influence othersMaking meaningful connections is important in leadership. We easily get caught up in “do-and-move-forward” mode which gets in the way of slowing down to value the relationships we have built and continue to grow. 

It helps to remember that people rally around causes and values that resonate with them, especially when leading through times of change. We have been trained to continuously scan internal and external environments and there is no question it takes time to figure out how to bring others with us through the journey that is change. Our role is to anticipate resistance, lead with confidence and have empathy for and redirect individuals who may get emotional. Modeling the behavior is a given and we can’t over communicate the key messaging that is required. Below are 6 simple things we can do to lead and influence people and organizations in times of transition.

1. Reciprocate – Random acts of kindness and helping others in unexpected ways sets the tone and people will respond in return.

2. Leverage scarcity – Have conversations about opportunity and consequences of not following through.
3. Authority: Lead by example – Rituals and setting goals play important roles in bringing others along. That happens when as leaders, we engage in conversation that covers:

• The past (this is where we were, what can it teach us)
• The present (this is our current reality)
• Vision (lets create the future together)

4. Consistency in messaging – People learn in different ways using various processes. We can’t over-repeat the message
5. Practice optimism because it is contagious. Seek synergies and commonalities. What do you like about how you work well together with peers?
6. Consensus – Ask for commitment because when people make a pledge, they are more likely to follow through.

Do you have other thoughts or stories about commitments? If so, make a comment below. Thanks for visiting my blog!

6 Things You Should Know About Leading Change

There is an infinite amount of information available today which provides insights about effectively dealing with the issue of leading change. There is not any one specific way to approach the topic because there are no proven statistical formulas to provide absolute solutions. What we do see, however, are common themes that exist across the board because of different perceptions and perspectives.

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  • There is power in how we choose to approach and respond to each situation. Change can be healthy if people make a conscious decision not to stay stuck in their own paradigms.
  • Leaders and followers all have different styles that make up our culture and we need to pay attention to our definitions of diversity.
  • People will resist change because they are afraid of losing something. Understanding the source of that resistance in order to generate an effective plan of action is imperative. The highly resilient individual can be an asset for managers in implementation of the change process.
  • Building trusting relationships and maintaining integrity is a crucial component when leading change. A good leader will cognitively think about how their actions build or break trust.
  • How and when we communicate change can have an impact on whether the message is heard and understood.
  • Those who are proactive and embrace change will be seen as individuals with added value to leaders and organizations.

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It is important to think about what the impact of implementing change can have from a macro or aggregate perspective. Getting others to focus on their own thinking process is important because there is a ripple effect that can start from the efforts of one individual and permeate to the rest of society. We live in a culture that rewards based on results and scenario thinking can be a tool to help us achieve positive outcomes. Skills alone are not enough to determine marketability in the workplace. Marketability comes from being able to experience a situation, reflect on it, learn from it and then move on.

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