“You can’t develop a side thing, lob it over the fence and expect it to be picked up,” said my lovely coffee companion Steven Webb, Senior Advisor, Change Management for UNHABITAT.
I believe we’re all change agents, so when I got the chance to site down with a change master maestro, I nabbed it.
Musings from a change master maestro
Steven has seen his fair share of change gong wrong. I asked him about common mistake he sees when people are trying to effect change. He named three:
- People agitating for change that isn’t directed, strategic or part of an overall vision
- Change that is based on a pet idea or
- Change for change sake
Alternately what works is change that:
- Has a clear purpose
- Is holistic and includes systems change
- Includes behavior change activities
In any organizational change process, “change has to be a focus. It has to be a priority,” Steven says, and that means change that is both selected strategically by change mangers and staff.
Ditch the mismatch and go for the sync
There’s a problem if the change mangers are focusing on change that the staff, working in the trenches, would not have chosen.
Change has to be synced from the ground up and the top down and it has to be aligned within the organizational structure.
Change management can be like the seasons.
There’s a time and place for change that comes in cycles. Here are some elements to consider that Steven talked about:
– Create a guiding coalition, a strong team that’s puling together
– Recruit change agents
– Include senior management that are working together and onboard
– Include both informal and formal change agents
– Have a plan but expect course corrections – change doesn’t happen in a straight line
– Create a narrative around the change; tell a story people can understand
– Follow the money; there needs to be resources behind the change
– Demonstrate values in the change process and bring those values alive e.g. behaviors should be aligned to these same values
– Work towards a feeling of a united, aligned team
– Have joint communication and lots of it
– Create strategies to increase ownership of the change
– Align the change to the organizational structure and policies
Talk about heavy lifting. But wait there’s more.
Often change initiatives fail because of those pesky but all too real human emotions.
Good change initiatives take into account what can sometimes be tricky human emotions. To take this into account Steven advises:
– Create strategies that look at motivational issues around the change
– Gauge the atmosphere; change happens more willingly in an atmosphere of trust, where the leadership trusts each other, the staff trusts the leadership and vice versa
– Dream big but be realistic: look for small wins – look for what you can achieve well given your time and budget priorities.
– Focus; focusing on doing some small change things builds confidence and creates momentum
– Put accountability measures in place
– Create training programs to help staff work together and collaborate in new ways
– Keep your people strategy aligned to your change strategy
There you have it. Next time you’re involved in a change process take some time to consider Steven’s experience.
And for the change to really take place and have traction, stay away from change that isn’t strategic, is based on a pet idea or change for change sake and steer yourself towards change that has a clear purpose, is holistic and includes behavior change activities.
Plan for the specific elements such as recruiting informal and formal change agents and especially take into account how people feel about the change, by examining issues of trust, motivation and accountability.
In our fast paced, ever changing world you got this. Now go forth and effect that social change that’s so important to you.
Want to get more insight into managing change? My next Learning and Development Roundtable will be on just that very topic. Click here to sign up to get invites, including for the September change session (which you can attend in person at the UN in Nairobi or online.)
And leave a comment below. Which tip or technique have you tried before and how did it go? Which one do you want to try next time?