This has been a very popular topic in recent discussions, so republishing it as a reminder of how difficult change management really is, and that it’s all about people!!
How hard can change management be? We do a bit of training they adopt the new processes and everyone’s happy? End of story.
We all know it does not work like that.
The first question those impacted ask or think to themselves is: “What’s in it for me?”. (“Why should I care about what you want?”) Ignore this question at your peril!
Organisations do not change, people change
In order for you to be successful you have to persuade the people impacted most to change what they are doing.
It does not matter whether we are talking about a new system, a new process or a new product – people have to want to change.
Coercion and authority can only get you so far (top down change), in order for you to succeed you need to persuade them that it is in their interest to change (bottom-up). For more on this see Change Management (Part 1) – Cracking the Code of Change and Beer & Nohria – “Cracking the Code of Change.
Prosci have a great model for this process “ADKAR” which helps lead people from Awareness thru Desire etc.
In order to do this the fundamental question that has to answered for people is still the same though…….
W.I.I.F.M. (What’s in it for me?)
You want people to change. They immediately want to know why and how this impacts them. Will their job change, will they be working with different people, or in a different location, will they have to learn things all over again, will their hours change……. they will have a thousand questions. Fundamentally it boils down to “What’s in it for me?”.
All of these questions have to be answered, and people may not like some of the answers, as they may view the change as a loss of status, an inconvenience or at worst a demotion. Or it may have impacts that are more subtle, e.g. they can no longer meet a close friend for a morning coffee break. Unless you can address these questions people will resist the change.
They will want to hear the overall direction from someone at the very top of the organisation, but for these more detailed conversations it needs to come from their immediate manager. Providing them honest answers and working through their concerns is key, sometimes people just want to be heard, other times a compromise will need to be reached, or perhaps a trade-off. The more people feel involved in the process the easier the conversations will be (there is nothing worse than feeling that change is being done to you and you have no control over it).
Furthermore, as Lewin described in the 1950’s, change is a journey from the current to the future. You need to help people understand the reason for the change, how it impacts them and how the new reality benefits them. Part of doing this is helping them understand how to get to the future state and leading them along the pathway to get there. This great article from the Fast Company makes some useful suggestions and provides some practical approaches to this difficult task.
So good luck with your change and don’t forget to help people answer that key question W.I.I.F.M. (What’s in it for me?).
Change Management (Part 1) – Cracking the Code of Change
Change Management (Part 2) – Step Models of Change
Change Management (Part 3a) – Change Capability
Change Management (Part 3b) – Success with IT Change
Change Management – What’s in a Name?
Why are IT projects Change Management time bombs?
The Importance of Change Leadership – Beyond “Step Models of Change”
Beer & Nohria – “Cracking the Code of Change
Lewin’s (1951) original 3-step model of “Unfreeze-Move-Refreeze”
John Kotter – “Leading Change”
Martin Webster’s blog
Change Management Blog
The five motivators of successful change by Barbara Kivowitz