Not everybody is ecstatic about change. This we know. In comes Change Management.
When To Use Change Management
Naturally, each situation is different and greatly depends on the type and scale of the change. Some changes are easier to embrace than others. For instance, if you suggested supplying staff with quality Belgian chocolate instead of stale candy bars. This suggestion is well accepted, yet there is somebody who is upset. They liked the cheap snacks, or wonder why Belgian when it could have been Swiss?
What Is Change Management?
Change Management theory tells you that with each change , 1-19% of those affected are dissatisfied with the result permanently. Good Change Management has strategies for all of the ways in which people typically approach change, and realize that they need to have some sort of a plan to address these dissatisfied folks. Give them more time, answer their concerns or encourage them to find a more suitable place of employ if they will never accept the change.
What To Do When Management is the Resistor
But what if the resistors in an organization is in the Leadership Team? What if staff is just fine with the changes, and eager to see improvement? They are happy to learn and grow but the Leaders are anything but. This happens. Don’t pretend it doesn’t. For whatever reason, the Leaders are not on board with the change. They can absolutely be the ones standing firmly in the “we’ve always done it this way” camp.
There are plenty of reasons why this can happen, same as other staff. They are challenged to learn new skills, afraid the new way will show they are incompetent – see “Imposter Syndrome”, it’s common! If the change requires a behaviour change, as it so often does, we resist, as it is much easier to continue to act the way you have in the past rather than adopt new philosophies and behaviours.
Let’s be real here that yes, in some organizations it is “flavour of the week” change where a new initiative is being announced, rolled-out, and forgotten. Having too much of that has everybody disengage from the change, as why would you get invested or learn something that you’ll just have to drop next week or next month. Often it is simply just easier to stay the course. Change fatigue can be one reason for resistance. An enormous amount of Change Management initiatives fail as well and this can create a “why bother” attitude.
Of course, a healthy team should be able to have many opinions, voice them in the room, and come to resolution that all Leaders can support. In a great many teams, such functional and productive behaviour does not always occur.
When Change Management Goes Sideways
I’ve been thinking about all the changes I’ve witnessed that have been cited in the OMG What Were They Thinking Journal. How much of this change management gone wrong is related to staff resistance? And how much is attributable to Leadership resistance? Staff aren’t going to leap onboard if their Leader is not in alignment. Then, the Leader can report back how staff don’t like the change, and how somebody else has mishandled the change. When it inevitably fails, they can keep doing the same old, same old, with a dose of “I told you it would never work”.
Do you have some of these resistors on your Team? How would you know if you did? What systems do you have in place to measure this? Moreover, what is this costing you – in time, financial costs, staff engagement and trust? Unless you make your team a place where people can voice their true feelings and concerns, this will keep showing up.
Expressing Your Point of View
There are many techniques and tools used in Team Coaching to have people safely express their point of view. These points of view can be concerns, issues, or excitement.
One technique is to simply ask people to scale where they are in this moment regarding the change. They can also say one reason they chose that number. Make it ok to be a “1” or a “7” or a “10”. Make it ok (or better yet model!) to say, well, if you asked me yesterday, I’d have said an “8” but today I found out a detail that makes me a “1”. Great. Most importantly, use change management techniques and listen to the why. See what new information comes up that may otherwise have been suppressed, as you may be surprised.
Rosalie Boulter is a Partner at Paradigm Shifters. She dislikes being typecast but will admit to being an ICF Certified Coach, Change worker, pontificator and proponent of healthy relationships. Check out her upcoming event taking place in October 2018 here: https://paradigm-shifters.com/courses/