You can’t manage change. Rather you lead through change.
For this reason I use the words change leadership with my clients and it takes some time for them to shift. They usually use the term change management or organizational change management (OCM).
Sure, it’s semantics but I think the words are important indicators of our mind set and our actions.
I’m regularly asked for forms to fill out having to do with change. People want a toolkit. Of course we have a toolkit. Change Project Management – The Next Step is filled with forms. Every change activity is translated into tasks on the project plan. However, there is so much more to it than the mechanics.
Most organizational change discussion and training focuses on theory. As an adverse reaction to impractical academic theory, real business people seek out practical solutions. Unfortunately, they attempt to shift the art of change leadership into a rote, mechanical process.
Somewhere in the middle is a balance that incorporates mind set, and solid principles, tightly linked to the detailed tasks of change.
Tightly link mind set and solid principles to the detailed tasks of change.
Here is an example of what I mean:
One crucial change leadership principle is to look for the validity buried in an instance of resistance.
Recently I watched a project manager answer a question in a meeting. The resister asked a pointed/critical question. The presenter had an answer. The answer worked in a conceptual way and addressed most of the issues raised. Done. Move on right?
However, the resister left the discussion dissatisfied. You see, one component of their question/complaint was very valid. They were right. There was a gap. The solution would not work. The project manager did not address this issue.
If the change leader does move on at that point (steps followed) at the very least an opportunity is missed. Worst case is a failed change effort.
In either case the resistor and all who witnessed the interaction lose trust in the change leader and the initiative overall. It’s very difficult to recover from this loss of trust.
Applying the principle of looking for the validity (at least in follow-up) we were able to acknowledge the identified shortcoming and design specific communication, testing, and training around the issue. This turned around the resistor who quickly became a supporter because we valued his input and also solved a valid problem. And importantly, bringing along hundreds of others.
To do this requires leadership skills, not just following a management approach and completing some process steps.