Practitioners Masterclass – Leading Your People Through Change, Putting it All Together

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The full title for this article is “Practitioners Masterclass – Leading your people through change, putting it all together and managing the whole messy business”.

That last bit is important because change is a messy business. For the vast majority of us, “change as something-to-be-resisted and avoided” is the “default setting”. Much of what we do as human beings is motivated by this inbuilt need to keep things as they are – to preserve the boundaries around “my life” – to preserve my survival, my safety and my comfort.

However, when change proves unavoidable, we automatically, and often unconsciously, attempt to work out “what does this means for me”? So, in practical and pragmatic terms, the root of all resistance to [or acceptance of] change can be reduced to uncertainty over the “W.I.F.M” question – that is: “what’s in it for me?”

At the organisational level, the appropriate response to change is one that actually works! What works is an approach that addresses the root cause of human resistance to change:

– That looks beyond the organisational “synergies”, cost reductions and service improvements, and identifies those people who will be impacted by the change.

– That thoroughly assesses what those impacts will be.

– That recognises and addresses the emotional issues arising and the personal transitions that accompany the organisational change.

– That provides leadership, supported by management processes, and practical, tactical support that deal directly with these impacts.

– That does so in ways that work as well for the people within the organisation as they do for the organisation.

So in this brief “Practitioners Masterclass” we will focus on the 3 broad areas that a successful change sponsor needs to address:

(1) Leadership

Although we speak of “change management”, it as more accurate to think in terms of “change leadership”. People need to be led through the transitions they experience as they are impacted by organisational change.

Change leadership has 3 primary functions.

– Firstly, to recognise the emotional dimension and to lead those impacted by the change through the stages of personal transition. The importance of this is directly proportionate to the scope, scale and duration of the change initiative.

– Secondly, to provide the energy and inspirational motivation that builds and sustains momentum.

– Finally, to ensure a balanced alignment of organisational needs and the personal needs of all stakeholders.

(2) Change model and method

The first of the two management aspects of a change initiative is the change model and methodology that will bridge the gap between the high level “big-picture” strategic vision and a successful implementation at the front-line.

This needs to be considerably broader in scope than a typical project led -“task oriented” approach, as it addresses the human factors and deals directly with the commonest causes of failure [that are always people related].

In my view, the recommended model is one that is based on an expanded and holistic programme management based approach.

(3) Action management

The second of the two management aspects of a change initiative is the translation of the vision and strategy into actionable steps.

This may or may not include project management, but the primary emphasis is on showing – and assisting people with – the specifics of exactly what is required of them.

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