CHANGE. It’s a word that so many people fear, especially within the organizational context….but why?
Because change is – to make the form, nature, content, future course, of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone - which is what many people want or find the easiest. It’s commonly known as the status quo.
The problem is that most things in life change one way or the other. So you’re either part of the change or you’re the outcome of the change. I often say that if you’re not moving forward with change, then you’re probably going backwards (not remaining the same). While it is often hard to understand and embrace change, it is important that we try to. What’s even more important is that when change is to be implemented, especially in an organizational context, it is done in a positive and managed way. That’s where change management comes in.
Change management is the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the “people side” of change to achieve a desired outcome.
Change management and organizational transformation emphasizes the “people side” of change, and when done well people feel engaged in the change process and work collectively towards achieving common objectives, delivering results, and realizing benefits. Employees within all levels of an organization must be involved to maximize the probability for success.
There are several models and processes that can be used for change management and organizational transformation including the ADKAR model, PCI (people centered implementation), KOTTER’s 8-step change model, PROSCI’s 3-phased change management process, and others. These are important, because if change is not managed effectively the risks can be high and negative for an organization. They include:
- Morale deteriorates, which leads to productivity declines.
- Productivity declines leading to poor customer service and lost revenues.
- Passive resistance escalates leading to active resistance.
- Active resistance emerges and sabotages the change.
- Divides or silos are created in the organization between “us and them”.
- Valued employees leave the organization.
- Projects go over budget and past their deadline.
- Workarounds are used to avoid the new way of doing things, or employees revert back to the old way.
- The organization builds a history of failed and painful changes, which makes I third to hire new good employees.
This is a very broad and deep topic and I could write about it for pages, but I’ll conclude by offering these 10 general tips that usually apply to most change management initiatives.
- Address the “human side” systematically.
- Start at the top.
- Involve every layer.
- Make the formal case.
- Create ownership.
- Communicate the message.
- Assess the cultural landscape.
- Address culture explicitly.
- Prepare for the unexpected.
- Speak to the individual.
We’ve probably all experienced examples where an organization or its employees couldn’t or wouldn’t change for a variety of reasons, but everyone can do their part by being open to change, because as scary as it might seem, it often leads to positive outcomes for employees, customers, and the organization overall.
So don’t fear change, embrace it, because the world is changing around you whether you like it or not.