‘Change is inevitable, Growth is optional’ – John C Maxwell
What is Change?
What does change mean to you? Try to think of some examples of change within your business and how it was handled. Did you just turn up one day and there was a major change that you didn’t know about or see coming? Did it make you feel shocked, frustrated, anxious? This is because of the change wasn’t managed effectively. Have you ever thought about your change management strategy?
If it was effectively managed, you would likely be supportive of the change, you would help the change succeed and it would be much more effective in its implementation. But why change at all if it’s hard to manage?
Organizational change management is an extremely important part of any business success and an extremely important soft skill to develop for success. There are new laws and legislation to consider, different trends and cultures, new technology and innovative processes. All of which can leave the business standing still and losing customers and possibly even leaving it in a state of disrepair. In other words, if a business fails to change it will fail to exist.
Something I like which visually brings this importance to life is the bell shaped curve Everett Rogers, a professor in communication studies, developed called the Diffusion of Innovation.
This model can be used in various formats across communication. Simon Sinek explains it well in how to start a culture change to how to target culture change audience. But for this example, lets take a different approach and how it explains the importance of change.
So we have the Innovators – the businesses who develop new technology, develop new process or thinking. The Early Adopters – the businesses that see the innovation value and adopt it into their business – these are the businesses that will be first to the market and reap the biggest rewards. Think of Apple and the smartphone.
We have the early majority and the late majority, fairly self explanatory and they operate it what’s called the comfort zone, they have seen the innovation tried, tested and be a success in the market place and decide to get on board.
Then we have the Laggards – the ones who fail to adopt the new idea, the ones who fail to change, the ones do not keep up with market conditions – think Nokia, think AOL or Yahoo! Companies that were at the top of their retrospective industries that failed to change and ultimately lost their market share.
This is why Apple are successful, they are GOATs for change management. They manage to get buy in from their customers through their vision. If they were to develop a new form of shopping trolley, customers and employees would buy into it, and they do that through their vision through the management of change.
So why do people resist change and what can we do?
American – Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross developed a model called the Five Stages of Grief. This model was adopted by change management professionals as the Kubler-Ross change curve, a way to explain how people move through different emotions as they are told about change and how their moral & competence is affected through time.
Now most people will move through this change curve as time moves on. What effective change management does is reduces the time it takes for the initial shock (however small or big) to integration.
So why do people resist change?
- Misunderstanding of why the change is needed
- Lack of planning and preparation
- Goals are set but too far in the future
- Lack of clearly defined roles and responsibilities
- Poor communication
- The legacy of the previous change
- Predominant culture ‘the way we do things around here’
- Employee resistance
- Ill prepared employees
The main issue here is planning, communication and consultancy. So how do we get better at that in business? We have talked about how Apple manage change through their vision, their effective communication and they know their customer. So we need to know our customer or team. Firstly let’s identify the personalities in our team.
Gary Wyles, Managing director of hrzone.com, wrote a great piece of work regarding different types of personalities that may exist within your team and how to manage them through a change process. Ultimately it sets out 8 different personality types and how engaged or not engaged they are in a change process. For example someone who may be a challenger – someone who actively looks for how the change will benefit them. A passenger – essentially there for the ride and you need to think about how you will engage them and make them tick. A champion – someone who will lead the change and can be the difference to success or failure of the change.
We need to understand the different personalities we have in our team and how we engage them. The more detail and time we put into knowing how to inform and consult our team, the more effective the change is going to be.
For example, if Scott is a very influential, competent member of the team it would be wise to consult him on certain areas and even give him part of a project to lead. If Katy is someone who will complain in the canteen and get everyone’s back up, give her a role with the champion of a project team so she’s actively playing part in the change. This will give them ownership and help them influence the rest positively.
So knowing your team and what makes them tick is essential for a successful change implementation.
Kotter’s Model – An 8 Step guide to change management
After this it’s all about the planning and the execution. A fantastic model developed by John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School, called Kotter’s Model. This is essentially an 8 step model to guide leaders into a systematic approach to change management.
1. Create – Build the business case back up with evidence – help senior management understand the requirements for change, the more urgency you can put onto a vision or change that you need the easier the buy in will be from your stakeholders.
2. Build the coalition – Identify followers who have influence, may be a member of the shop floor team or management, these should come from different areas and different hierarchies of the business if possible
3. Create the vision – Build on data and think how individuals can contribute – targeted initiatives and coordinated activities and think about where different personalities may affect the change
4. Communicate the vision – Ultimately you need to sell and communicate your vision effectively. Identify your stakeholders, understand how they will affect the change and create your army of contributors
5. Empower the people – Remove obstacles to ensure success. Did we get off to a good start? Get feedback from all involved and understand all types of barriers. Watch out for statements such as ‘this wont work’. What extra financial resource do you need and how will you obtain this?
6. Identify quick wins to encourage change. Short term goals are extremely important. Celebrate those little milestones with everyone involved and create a sense of belonging that gives everyone a sense of achievement.
7.Change takes time Remember depending on the change it can take time. Don’t give up if you know its right, continue with steps 4-6, don’t declare victory too early, keep setting goals for continued improvement.
8. Embed the change – Continue training, create standard operating procedures, create control plans, celebrate individuals and reaching targets.
So to conclude – you need to change to survive. I am an avid fan of change as you find new, better ways of working. Experiment with previously never thought of ideas, you should never accept one way of working, or one process as the only way. You should always be looking to continuously improve.
Get to know your team and how they can contribute to the overall success of the project. Understand how you will create the urgency and sell your vision to your army of followers you are going to inspire the change in. Create those quick wins, celebrate early success and remember – change takes time.
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Thanks for the feedback Ian 😀
A well written piece and easy to read, I look forward to further contributions Dan
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