Change is Like a Roller Coaster
You have been waiting in line for the past hour and you finally take your seat. As the announcement blares over the loudspeaker, the overhead bar lowers and firmly presses against your chest. The anticipation is at its peak as the sound of the cars are being pulled to the top of the crest, Click, Click, Click. The silence is deafening and you begin to question your decision. In a matter of seconds, the following emotions race through your mind: fear, uncertainty, and depression.
Although many have experienced this roller coaster before, for others, this is very new. Depending on your past experience the situation will be very different.
Why is change so difficult and unpredictable? The truth is, its not. Thousands of hours have been spent in researching the causes, effects, and attributes of change. There are several white papers, communities, models, etc. that outline the change process. The challenge is not the what, the challenge is in the how.
Most organizations do not take change management seriously. It is a check the box exercise, to show that “i’s” are dotted and “t’s” are crossed. Very few organizations truly invest in their change management programs which is why their desired outcomes are not achieved. In fact, According to John Kotter (creator of the 8- step process for leading change), only 30% of Change Management programs succeed; the two primary factors for failure are sponsorship and resistance.
Let’s take a moment to unpack Change Management. As a program, the purpose of Change Management is to minimize the risk and interruption when an organization is moving from a current to a desired future state. According the dictionary, the term change means “something new” or to “make different”and term management means “to deal with”, or “control”.
Before I go farther, I want to ask yourself this question. When my organization is creating something new or making something different, Do we control the process to ensure we achieve successful outcome? Based on the research by Kotter, it is fair to say that 70% of the time you do not.
If you are currently managing a change or beginning to plan for a change, I would like to provide you with three actions that will help you be successful.
1. Clearly Define the Change. You must have a clear understanding of the entire change and the implications across the organization. What are the up-stream and down-stream impacts on people, process, and technology?, What are the new behaviors, actions that need to be take, decisions that need to be made, expectations that need to be followed? People only know as much as you tell them. You cannot expect a change, when know one knows that the change is.
2. Manage the Change like a Program vs. a Project. A program is designed to support future events and long term outcomes, i.e. Total Rewards, Talent Management, etc. A project on the other hand has a defined end date and supports short term outcomes, i.e. Implementation, Merit Cycle, etc. To manage a program effectively it requires an investment, i.e. budget, resources, capabilities, sills, time, etc. There are several viable change models that are available for you to leverage.
3. Continuously Reinforcement the Value of the Change. Lastly, Change Management is never complete. Change Management is like Star Wars, there is never an ending and there is always a sequel :). All joking aside, Change is ongoing, fluid, alive and it requires constant feeding and reinforcement to live. In many instances it is like raising children. For a child to act a certain way, it requires you as a parent to have thorough communication, constant, engagement, specific training, and a lot of reinforcement.