I don’t believe that managing change should be a big deal at all. It seems as if in victimhood like fashion many have taken to the Chicken Little “The Sky Is Falling” approach to managing change. I believe it’s time not to give it such prominent billing on the organizational marquis. Here are a few things to think about when dealing with the inevitable dose of organizational change:
- Don’t use the word change. The word itself leads the mind to fear based thoughts such as lack of control, uncertainty or something new that takes one out of their comfort zone. As soon as people are afraid you can count on their ego driven survival instincts kicking in and showing up in all the messy ways you would expect. Personally, I like the word evolving instead of changing. Evolving implies progression and growth. Change invokes fear (false evidence appearing real).
- Accept that change is constant. As individuals, teams and organizations we are constantly changing. We are changing from the day we are born. Change is inevitable for any organization that is paying attention to and reacting to market conditions. Also, you can’t continuously improve anything without change. Something expected doesn’t need to be a big deal.
- Focus on the people first. Surprisingly enough people seem to be thought of last when it comes to change. We implement new processes, change things, merge, acquire and as long as IT and payroll work we pat ourselves on the back and think all is ok. However, those who are most impacted by change are rarely given a voice in the process. Without a voice, buy in goes out the window quickly.
- Give context for the change. Don’t let everyone wonder why we are changing something. People need to understand why we are changing things. Understanding the why will help people understand the change, even if they don’t love it or are skeptical.
- Establish the growth mindset. Communicate honestly and set expectations around the changes. Manage expectations by clearly communicating that everything won’t be perfectly smooth and that together we are going to figure out the unexpected things that pop up. If you BS people with words like “seamless” they won’t believe you and the skeptic radar will go off.
Finally, for change to work effectively people need to believe. How can they believe if they aren’t given a voice? How can they believe if they aren’t allowed to contribute to the changes that impact them the most? How can they believe if they don’t understand the reason for change?