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?

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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!