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Change Management

It is easy to say that 2020 has been a year of change, albeit forced changed in some cases but nevertheless change.  Change whether pursued or levied upon us, let us say it out loud, is incredibly hard.  Let us say it again, change is incredibly hard.  While pushing through the tough work of change we evolve, transform, and ultimately grow as individuals and leaders within our organizations.

As we work with our clients on optimizing their people, processes, and systems we ensure we are coaching on not only the scope of the project (the why) but also the change management fundamentals. There are so many elements of change management that must be focused on, including the emotional aspects of change, the behaviors of change and the transformation journey that an organization must navigate through.  So, let us start with the emotional aspects of change as outlined by author John Fisher.

1. Emotional Aspects of Change

For emotional aspects of change, we utilize the John Fisher process of transition model and the transformation emotional curve.  As changes begin to occur within an organization it is important to recognize and acknowledge that everyone is experiencing emotions associated with change, and that not all people are at the same emotional stage.  There will also be a tendency for individuals to vacillate within the emotional change curve as the project progresses.  The keys are 1. acknowledge it, 2. discuss it and 3. revisit it as often as necessary.

One of the change management activities we like to do is have the team members place their fears on a post-it as we begin a project. As the project progresses, we have the individual remove or add their post-it note as the fear is alleviated or new fears emerge.  We find that creating that visual representation (the post-it notes) helps the team process the emotional changes and as the project progresses that 99.9% of their fears are alleviated. Again, the key is to 1. acknowledge it, 2. discuss it and 3. revisit it as often as necessary.

2. The Behaviors of Change

For behavioral aspects of change: the identification of behaviors is an extremely important part of the change management process. We can sight negative behaviors relatively easy but what do those positive behaviors look like?  When we started our journey on developing our change management collateral, we surveyed individuals with one question, what do leadership behaviors look like associated with change?  Here is what we heard; ability to inspire, openness, tenacity, communicates the “why”, confidence, and positive attitudes.  So then what do the behaviors look like within other roles in an organization?

  • Individual and Front-Line Mangers: Openness; coaches individuals to overcome resistance and supports others by showing empathy struggling with the emotional aspects of change.
  • Operational Leaders: Promotes change, encourages innovation, and addresses resistance (the why are we changing).
  • Strategic Leaders: Creates opportunities, encourages boundary breaking, and encourages others to continually set higher goals.

In the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard they write about “cognitive dissonance” which is that people don’t like to act in one way and think in another so once a small step has been taken, and people begin to act in a new way, it will be increasingly difficult for them to dislike the way they are acting. Understanding cognitive dissonance is critical to understand and acknowledge when we see a behavior change within an individual or team, and then provide that recognition and motivation to continue the acceptance of change.

3. Business Transformation

Lastly, is the need to also focus on what change looks like within the organization.  Business transformation is a journey that can take years in some cases to occur given the magnitude of change affecting people, processes, and systems.  It is critically important the journey is shared with all key stakeholders, the functional business leaders and all people impacted by the transformation.  We find that having multiple communications methods and cadence is critically important throughout the transformation lifecycle.  Within the transformation lifecycle there are five phases which include 1. Transform to Disorder, 2. Stability to Performance, 3. Performance to Competence, 4. Competence to Excellence and lastly 5. Accelerate and Outperform.

To learn more about the business transformation lifecycles reach out to xSynergy Solutions , a full service transformation firm headquartered in Centennial, CO.