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I don’t know about you but I am a bit jaded by these 2 words in combination. I don’t get all animated when they’re used but I don’t exactly get fired up buy them though. The words Social Business I get all fired up about but that’s probably a future blog as to why that is. Change Management leaves me a bit cold.

For me it’s a little like Stand Up Comedy and Observational Humour. Stand up – it IS that of course, as the comedian is standing up. Observational Humour is the cut of comedy that is used whilst standing up. It’s about real things that cause us to laugh at ourselves not at others expense per se. So to label all comedy as stand up is not doing it justice.

We label all change as, well change. So it’s too amorphous. Even if we used transformation it would still feel a bit indistinct.

Let’s take stock of the industry that has become change management. Books galore for a start. Consulting a plenty. Internal programmes ahoy. Over used phrases like “change is the new norm”.

What IS clear though, is that the moving markets; new products and customer demands, advancements in technology means we have no such thing as a steady state. To coin a phrase used by the CIPD in research it’s about a ready state.

How ready are we for changes needed? To the way we work, lead and provide services?

The important dynamics here are often put together like a new organisational structure aimed at giving the best flow of processes and decision making; a RACI matrix which looks at where and how people will be tasked with the performance necessary to deliver; management structures and the like.

What is always talked up is the communications and people involvement aspect.

And in my experience STILL the most lacking.

Decisions taken behind closed doors and spun out around what’s happening and why. Ineffective “emulsion brush” Town Hall addresses which some pin their entire rallying cries to the people to join in with the change and go with it.

Comms and intranet pages devoted to the change programme with a set of slides; a pdg of FAQs and a short video of the CEO/Chair.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Change management programmes are a product of our attempts to manage the tide of progress yet we don’t involve the very people who are psychologically impacted upon like we should and that’s a real shame.

So true consultation, involvement and inclusivity has to be more the feature of the alternative proposition being scoped and built. Not to mention people not necessarily having the skills to navigate through the turbulence, trauma or joy of change.

So let’s recalibrate our approaches to change.

Start with people, build people and their needs into the “programme” – if you have to call it that – throughout and not just the chosen few.

Communicate, communicate and collaborate.

Find the personal touchpoints and conversational approaches that really build belief, input and influence. Be honest, sincere and approachable throughout. HR has a key role here.

No HR has THE role here.

So we start from the point of being the most influential part of the process. Square the conversation on these foundations:

– why is the change needed and what will it deliver for people – especially our people?;
– how will it impact on people and what do they need from us throughout the process and into the new future?;
– what can we give and what we will get from the open dialogue we need with our people?

Where there’s chains of command and line manager structures, there needs to be conversations around the change – what is it at organisational; unit/team and individual levels that causes hope, concern and difference.

I’d suggest change needs to be like the 5 minute project Chip and Dan Heath advocate in their book “Made To Stick”.

Set 5 minutes aside to focus on “it”. From a psychological, practical and emotional point of view. Create a range of open discussions all over the place to deepen understanding amongst everyone about “it”. Not a comms campaign. A way of life.

There’s big change. It feels scary. It feels exciting. It is though, BIG

Per person we need a 5 minutes project per day thinking and talking about the change and reflecting on the personal feelings, thoughts and actions needed about it.

So my tenet here is change is TOO big and a change management approach is too bland.

Make it smaller, more understandable and realisable.

It needs to be personalised, humanised and relevant.

Change management is not a tactical manoeuvre in pursuit of a plotted aim – it’s moving people’s beliefs, skills and loyalty with you.

One 5 minute conversation at a time.

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