What is Change Management?
Most regular readers of this blog know that I try to maintain a focus on posts for those in the change management and communication professions. I’ve had some interesting feedback though of late, that I’ve skipped ahead too far. There’s a fundamental need to explain in basic language just what is change management. Yes. In basic language. There’s the rub. In a space that’s dominated by buzzwords and corporate jargon, explain change management in plain English. Tricky stuff.
At it’s most basic it’s the practices of taking people through the process of learning something new, using something new, doing something different and making sure that those changes are valuable.
I’ve noted earlier that those within the change management profession struggle with how to describe what they do, certainly that was a topic at one of the Change Management Professional’s meet ups last year. Within the varying change management groups in Linkedin there is varying debates on what to “rename” change management. And goodness gracious me, if you though ‘Change Management’ was jargon, you should see the alternatives being suggested (Change Enablement, Transition and Transformation Management, Organizational Behavioural Change Facilitation )
Anyway, back to the challenge at hand. Just what is change management?
It starts with your management (usually very senior) wanting to change the way you work. This can mean:
- Bring in a new technology (eg a payroll system, a new database for managing records or for managing customers, a new point-of-sale system)
- Change the way you report or who you work with (for instance, move in to teams, different functional groups, in different locations)
- Change your role (for instance, start doing new types of work which requires new skills)
- Introduce a new culture (so encourage people to be more entrepreneurial, work as a team more, share information more)
But just as you can’t move house, lose weight, increase your financial status, bring home a new baby without some level of preparation, planning and assistance, neither can a business manage these types of changes very well without some change management support.
How do you know when you have not had change management?
So if we take a Sherlock Holmes approach, what are the signs that you have NOT had change management assistance or change managers around?
- The mojo is missing. Things just feel different and not so good!
- People feel like they are mushrooms – y’know, kept in a dark corner and fed umm, erm, cow poo
- You and your colleagues don’t feel there’s much information out there about what is happening so start making up very plausible pieces of information to fill the gap. These plausible pieces of data may or may not be true.
- People are feeling more emotional than usual at work (eg scared, cynical, worried)
- There’s increased sick leave.
- There’s increased work load.
- Your managers are more stressed than usual.
- You read in the paper that your company is not doing so well financially.
And let’s flip it, dear Watson, what are the signs you have change managers or change management support in the business?
- There’s a few new faces around, and they’re probably arguing over what to put in their email signature (“No – don’t call yourself change management, that’s scary…call it transformation facilitator”)
- Hopefully, the new faces are doing a lot of listening, and asking really good questions of a lot of people. They might use the term ‘stakeholder analysis’ for this.
They’ll be doing a number of things, like,
- Developing a change strategy – which is basically working out what approach to use to introduce the new way of working and making sure the approach fits with the business needs.
- Developing an implementation plan – which is a step-by-step plan on how to roll the change out. It should involve milestones, time schedules, who’s going to do what and how you will know if it has been successful.
- Developing a comprehensive change communication plan (how best to communicate with everybody during the time that you are going through the change), and yes, I’ll pick up on this in the next post.
- Thinking about how to deal with change resistance – that’s because they assume that the majority of you are not going to like the change and will “resist”. I have other thoughts on that, but safe to assume this will be going on.
- Hopefully, addressing the change readiness – which means they are working out how to ensure you are as ready for change as possible (eg do you have the resources you need to carry out the change?)
- Throwing around a lot of words like BAU, Go-Live, Change release. The words don’t matter as much as the fact that they are there. Trust me.
If senior management have really done their homework, these change management folk will be around way before you need to make the changes. If things have gone a bit pear shaped, they may be brought in in bulk after implementation with capes flowing, underpants on the outside, and flying invisible planes.
So how did I go? Plain English enough? Does this make sense to you ….would love your feedback.
Leave a Reply