I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard someone complain that change is not happening in their organization because leaders are not saying or doing the right things. In fact, the most commonly cited reason for failure of organizational change is ineffective or insufficient sponsorship.
But leaders are people before they are sponsors. Just as we need to help people in the organization get ready, willing, and able to behave differently, we need to help leaders make that same transition. We can’t expect leaders to magically commit to a new set of ideas and behaviors before they themselves have fully thought through what it means for them, how they will be valued under the new environment, how supported they will be, and more.
Sometimes when people see leaders taking time to understand what is required and how they will fit in, they assume with snide cynicism that the leader is being “political.” But evaluating their own fate does not make a leader ”political”… it makes them human. (Don’t get me wrong, there are overly ambitious leaders out there… but they are the exception, not the rule.)
Next time you want to blame the failure of a change on leaders, think about how you can help leaders make the transition to new behaviors and ideas. If we accept that leaders are people first, we can better position them to be sponsors.
It is the question we hear SO often… “What exactly is change management?” (We are not talking about the technical kind of change control/change management/version control… we are talking about organizational change management – ie. the poeple/fuzzy stuff!).
Change Management is, quite simply, getting people ready, willing and able to work in new ways.
Organizations are really just groups of people. And an organization changes when the people within that organization change. So if an organization hopes to change its outputs by changing the way the organization works, then fundamentally people need to make that change happen.
The challenge arises from the basic fact that change is not easy for people… it is just the way that human beings were engineered. But given the proper time and attention, people can survive and thrive in changing environments.
People are ready when they know what the change is, why it is happening, and how it will take place/the implications of it. They are willing when they make a conscious choice to be a part of the future state (not when they are forced! forcing people sucks productivity down the drain!). And they are able when they have the tools and skills necessary to work in new ways.
By being thoughtful and rigorous, we can give people the information, leadership, measures and rewards, training, and other things they need to be ready, willing and able to make a change reality.
Welcome to the Change Guides blog! We live and breath organizational change… We want to share some of the things we come across on a daily basis (you won’t believe some of the stuff we see!) and get your input. Join in the conversation!
We published our first app in the iTunes App Store a few weeks ago. It is a Change Readiness Audit that helps organizations assess how ready they are for any given change. After answering a few questions, the user gets some feedback about how well they are doing. Some poeple are really digging the format and the ease of use. But others are telling us that what is basically a 5 minute survey is far too simple to capture what is necessary for changes to succeeed.
I see both sides of it. I think the intention of something that is “quick and dirty” is really to just expose people to a new way of looking at change. An IT manager in charge of a system implementation in his company might not generally consider the fact that there needs to be a clear understanding of the need for change, that leaders need to be demonstrating commitment, etc…. An easy and non-threatening assessment like this audit might just open his eyes a little bit. At least that is what we hope.
Should someone assume that change is as simple as a few short questions? Absolutely not. But change is not really rocket science… we know there are certain things that MUST happen and be in place for change to be successful. Hopefully this is at least a start!