Here are three key things to remember when managing organizational change:
- Be inclusive: People support what they help to create, so get as many people as possible seriously involved and working together early in the process.
- Create change-supportive environments: Small change can have a big effect and the most sustainable change is a bottom-up (versus top-down) affair. This kind of change is derived from values-driven, emotionally safe, and risk-supportive work environments. A supportive environment is an essential ingredient to innovative, change-ready organizations.
- Communicate the purpose of the change, continually: Ensure the change message is compelling and is repeated (often!) in various ways using multiple mediums. I’ve truly never heard a leader accused of over-communicating.
Here are three key things to know about helping people through the change process:
- Accepting change is a psychological process of transformation: Change is the event and transformation is the psychological process of coming to terms with the event. People (including change professionals) need understanding and support to effectively manage the process.
- Managing change is likened to the emotional stages of grief: First, there is denial and the pain of loss, followed by fear of the unknown, until finally reaching a place of acceptance. As effectively conveyed in the William Bridges model, there are three phases that people must experience and navigate to achieve transformation: 1) endings; 2) neutral zone; and, 3) new beginnings.
- Resistance is natural and ought to be embraced: By the time most employees learn about the change, the organization’s leaders are likely to have already made the transformation and may fail to understand why employees seem resistant. Worse yet, the perceived resistance frustrates them.
As for understanding change management, I was encouraged after attending the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) conference. For this CMP, it was a happy experience, and not just because of our rockin poolside party at Ceasar’s Palace. The conference was most exciting for the realization that not only is a widespread understanding of change management on the rise, but more and more people and their organizations are beginning to understand the importance and value ($$) of managing change well. The message I heard repeatedly was this, “in the rapid-paced environment where I work we understand the importance of managing change and we have hired experts to help us with the process.” Wow, very cool!