Properly implementing change in any organisation is simultaneously imperative and challenging. More than challenging, it can be utterly frustrating!! Knowing you have to do something yet your chances of success are woefully against you is also disheartening. Yes, many of you will be only too aware of the scientific and industry accepted statistic that > 70% of change initiatives fail!! Ignoring the emotion and feeling aspect of your people in the change process is a death knell and will ensure you’re on the wrong side of the statistic!.
There are many reasons for this; here are six of the most common and some of their potential causes;
- The people within your organisation simply don’t understand the change. (Cause – poor communication, planning and involvement)
- Your people are convinced they’ll ‘lose’ something that matters to them. (Cause – generally what they think they’re losing is their comfort with the constancy and habit of the old way – something we all actually need to some degree so retaining and defending it is very strong.)
- There is disagreement with the reason or rationale for the change or the information supporting it. (Cause – could be lack of preparation and getting solid unbiased information OR it this could be an easy excuse to support their real reason – #2 above)
- They have a strong personal discomfort with change (Cause – either they are insecure in their positions / relationship with the organisation or they have had some traumatic experience with change in their past)
- The Leadership isn’t trusted so any change associated or proposed by them will not be trusted! (Cause – you will never get embraced and vested change, or any leadership initiative for that matter, without first establishing trust)
- Lack of time and resources (time, training, process revision, etc.) allotted to the change to allow it to become established. (Cause – lack of planning and commitment to the full life stages of the change – usually by the executives who were the original drivers of the change in the first place.)
There are other reasons but these are generally the most prevalent. You don’t have to look too closely to see a definite pattern and commonality in these causes. Yes, your people! Further it is actually your people’s ‘feelings’ or emotions in regard to the change. These will make or break your initiative.
In order to embrace and utilise a change your people have to make a decision whether they value this change and are willing to accept and support it. Here is where the challenge happens for most organisations.
This edition of Professional Journey Steps is to help you realise this or at least remind you to be doubly vigilant in this aspect of your change plans.
Neuroscience and Behavioural Psychology tell us decisions are driven by emotion. Even though we’d like to believe we’re all logical, ‘Spockian’ individuals, our logic mainly serves to rationalise, after the fact, what we’ll always do, decide based on our emotions / feelings. (Sorry Spock),
What we see all too often is the reliance, which amounts essentially to hope, that the people ‘will just get it’ and the change will be adopted with open and enthusiastic arms. So the different steps in the change process are either under cooked or miss dealing with the emotional side altogether. So please remember:
Professional Journey Step #32 recommendations to overcome this dilemma
- Anticipate, actually expect, reactions and resistance to any change and that they are likely driven by emotion
- Identify who and why people ‘feel’ the way they do (with as much understanding, lack of bias as possible and don’t allow witch hunts to occur)
- Address these ‘real’ issues as early in the process as possible – they are real to your people so you must consider them the same
- Use your Emotional Intelligence skills and empathy to fully understand the causality and address those core elements
- Understand your people will go through this process at different timelines depending on where they are at stage one (are they an early adopter, pragmatist, cynic or sheep)
- Further understand that the planning group initiating this change will have gone through the different phases of acceptance as well but will have come out the other end sometimes even before the rest of your people have embarked on the first steps of the journey – so be patient and empathetic here also.
Change is both difficult and necessary, stay positive, study the methods but apply only as they apply to your organisation, stay the course, it is a journey. AND, once you’re finished there is a better than good chance you’ll get to do it all over again very soon.
Love to hear you’re experiences, challenges, different thoughts! Make a comment or get in touch. If we can help certainly reach out! To all of you, all our very best, and …
Enjoy the Journey!