The Importance of Change Management.

In recent years the importance of a committed, dependable workforce has significantly increased when looking at how resilient a business is in this time of economic stagnation.

However, having a loyal, dedicated workforce is not always enough, businesses have to constantly adapt, merge departments, adjust individual responsibilities, which have a direct impact on your staffs’ commitment in most cases… Leaders and managers with good change management skills can help their workforce adjust and embrace change in a positive, productive step forward.  These managers often determine whether the business develops and grows during a tough economy… or merely struggles by.

Why is it then that so many companies seem to struggle to effectively manage change?  There is no shortage of methodologies and these are well documented. Could it be because many of these have their emphasis on process and project management?

Equally unfortunate and unhelpful is the pervasive belief that almost everyone is “resistant to change”.  Clearly people take time to come to terms with change – some more quickly than others – but we are inherently flexible and resilient as a species. Think about it. Our lives are punctuated with change. We start school, leave, go to college, leave, relocate, get a job, get married, get a different job, get divorced, have children, move house, etc.

So, if we are all capable of change, why does it often appear difficult to make change stick?  Here are some basic reasons from our experience as coaches:

  1. Different people react differently to change – some find it easier than
  2. Everyone has fundamental needs and expectations in relation to their
    job, their relationships and their goals and aspirations – these must be in
    large part met for change to stick.
  3. In almost every case, change involves some form of loss, and people have
    to go through the “loss cycle” before emerging out the other side
    accepting their new reality.
  4. Communication and management of expectations can either be the key to
    successful change or the rock it perishes on!
  5. There are always going to be concerns and fears for anyone involved -
    these must be dealt with effectively and directly.

For those of you with knowledge of the importance of behavioural preferences into an individual’s responsiveness (or otherwise) to change, many of these points will come as no surprise!  In every organisation or team there will be people who are much more change averse than others – likewise, there will be those who get bored quickly if not surrounded by constant change and variety!

One of the strengths of adopting a coach approach and taking into account the team’s individual behavioural priorities means that many of the pitfalls of managing change are, if not avoided, at least successfully managed.

If you are planning to introduce some change in your organisation, here are some guidelines which may help make the challenge of managing that change rather less daunting.

  • Understanding the behavioural response of individuals to change will make you more empathetic and less likely to misinterpret behavioural signals as resistance.
  • Take the time to conduct individual interviews with staff both to ensure that the reasons for and benefits of the change are clearly understood, and to help them to produce a personal strategy for dealing with the change. It must be theirs, not yours!
  • Give individuals the opportunity and time to express their concerns their own way… and listen! Simply stating and restating the strategy and the company line will not guarantee their acceptance.
  • Help people to be aware of the choices and options that they have. Ensure that they have thought through the consequences of each of those alternatives.
  • Where the change involves a loss, first of all get a clear joint understanding and acknowledgement of what that means both to them, and to the company.  Then help them to identify and understand what will or might replace that loss. It’s important that they identify these – their “ownership” is critical to successfully
    implementing the change. Avoid the temptation to “rescue” them.
  • Be as open and honest as you can be, communicating as much information as is possible, as regularly as possible.  However, you must never set unrealistic or overly optimistic expectations.

Keeping these guidelines in mind and sticking to them can help you introduce permanent change effectively.

There’s one more thing to reflect on – many managers and leaders struggle to take on board change themselves – so don’t be shy to seek help yourself – it’s not a sign of weakness, but of strength!  Whether that is to invest in behavioural assessment to help effective change implementation… or to seek the help of your own coach…

In the words of Albert Schweitzer… “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing!”

Everything DiSC® behavioural assessment products provide insight and guidance into the behavioural preferences and priorities of individual team members and provide a solid foundation for successful change implementation.