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Bob’s guide to successful Change Management: People First & Process Second

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Why take this strategic approach for implementing effective organisational change management?

Basically it’s the smart option – yet it is rarely acted upon. Oh yes – organisations say they do this….but do they really?

How many of us either implementing or affected by organisational change attend a ‘Town Hall’ Meeting where senior people present a slide deck of the changes at a relatively high level, deliver some motivational rationale for the changes and either ask for or assume buy-in to the proposed new world order?

What are the key things to consider?

The benefits of any change can be viewed from multiple perspectives. Almost always the benefits to the organisation are relatively clear.

Now what about the benefits to individual units of the organisation? (‘winners & losers’), what about the impact on individuals and where they are in their relationship with the organisation? (career or job, how long they’ve been with the organisation, what age are they, how mobile are they, how transferable are their skills…?)

Is there a comprehensive, customised, relevant communication package already understood and supported by Line Management?

Have they the competency, capability and capacity to engage with staff at the appropriate level of detail in team and 1-2-1 conversations?

Do staff groups e.g. Communications, HR, specialists etc, have the required amount of 3Cs (competency, capability & capacity) to support Line Management in the explanation of the change and its impact at the department and individual levels?

If you’re associated with organisational change communication, how often have you heard the question, “how is the communication plan going?” with the reply being something like, “the slide decks have been sent and we’re awaiting feedback.”

This just not good enough!

There needs to be a pro-active approach to communication: sending & receiving, speaking & listening, agreeing & disagreeing, understanding and moving on in the stated direction of travel.

There should be a well-maintained feedback loop which actively listens for areas of disagreement or alternatives. This does not mean everything should be acted upon. However everything should be thought about and an appropriate response made.

Top Tip:

One of the most effective ways of building an effective communication plan is to tie this plan to the Business Case for the organisational change.

  • You do have a robust Business Case for the Change don’t you?

Often organisations fall into a trap in failing to align their organisational change strategy with a ‘people first, process second’ approach. In many conversations I’ve had with Change Management professionals there is almost 100% agreement on this being the smart way to implement change. So where does this individual view disappear when it is aggregated inside organisations?

I’d suggest that there is a misalignment (I’m being polite here) between Senior/Executive Management, those responsible for implementing the change programme and finally the operational areas affected by the change. (These operational areas are also expected to keep to production/service delivery targets even in times of significant change).

It’s at this point I’m reminded of Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek episode ‘Encounter at Farpoint’ when he says for the first time “Make it so”.

For the avoidance of doubt and with no wish to offend, Star Trek was a TV & Film series, not reality.

Building and sustaining a people-based approach to organisational change is in reality, the more effective route to success. This in no way whatsoever reduces the complexity and challenges associated with process changes. More on this in a following blog.

You can contact Bob directly at: Bob@peopleskillsworldwide.org

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