Last year this time, if you had asked me what Change Management is, I would have looked at you completely baffled. As a digital marketer I had not been exposed to this term before, so the concept felt more than a little foreign. Fast-forward to the present and it's safe to say that my understanding of Change Management has improved considerably.
I had to undergo a change in order to fulfil my duties and ensure effective marketing of the company and its service offering. This got me thinking about the people within the organisations that we assist and the change that they must undergo. In order to undergo the change that is being implemented, one must understand the change; buy into the change; and ultimately begin to live the change. But, if one does not actually understand or even know much of the process they are experiencing, being Change Management, there will be a disconnect between the actions required by them to ensure the change is successful.
So, what is Change Management?
Here at Diversified Consulting, we define Change Management as "a discipline, based on psychological principles, that uses tools, processes and techniques to engage with people and lead them through change, to achieve business objectives." That being said, we would define ourselves as 'people focused'. Our focus, or rather our 'Why' is about ensuring smooth and successful transitions for people experiencing change, supported by the 'What' being the discipline of Change Management.
Additionally, Prosci defines Change Management as "the discipline that guides how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes."
Finally, SearchCIO defines it as "a systematic approach to dealing with the transition or transformation of an organization's goals, processes or technologies. The purpose of Change Management is to implement strategies for effecting change, controlling change and helping people to adapt to change."
Sure, all of these definitions contain similar elements and themes, but essentially, they all say one thing that is crucial to understanding what Change Management is: The focus is on people, more specifically, guiding, helping, or leading people through the journey of change or as we at Diversified Consulting like to put it "keeping people at the heart of the change".
Why is Change Management important?
Imagine for a second that you are told to change how you make a cup of coffee. You are not given any insight into why this change has been instructed. What are the implications of this change, good or bad? Would this change result in a faster coffee making process? Perhaps it might enhance the flavour of the coffee? Alas, the only thing that is certain, is that you have received an instruction. Would you blindly follow it? Of course not! This is called resisting the change, and rightfully so.
On the other hand, if you were to be given more information relating to the questions posed, the outcome could be vastly different. If it was confirmed that this change would indeed result in a faster coffee making process, that saved you time and enhanced the flavour, you could rest assured that the implications of this change are good. The likelihood of the change being accepted and adopted is far greater now.
By employing Change Management in order to reach a future, desired state, an organisation acknowledges the need for buy-in from their people. The organisation is effectively declaring its people are as important as the future state it has envisioned and that without the buy-in from its people, the future state would not easily be reached.
This means that the importance of Change Management lies with the fact that it seeks to assist both the organisation and its people in achieving an understanding of the change, providing support during the change, promoting and ensuring buy-in to the change and finally the adoption of the change. Change Management exists to ease the transition from the current state to the future, desired state for the people at the heart of the change, being the employees that must undergo this transition in a far more direct way. Instead of change being blindly forced on people, Change Management serves as a guiding light of sorts in a time that, for some, may feel like a trek through unknown lands with no clear destination or end goal in sight.
How can we make Change Management easier on ourselves?
By acknowledging we are in a constant state of change throughout our lives, we can get a step closer. What I mean is we experience change frequently without really being cognisant of it. We age with each second that passes; thus, we experience our bodies and lives changing. We watch as seasons come and go, seeing change in action within the world as leaves and temperatures drop only to rise again when the time comes. Even the littlest caterpillar serves as an example of change happening, as and when it eventually becomes a butterfly. So, by being cognisant of the change that is happening around us in our daily lives, adapting to change in the workplace becomes more of a norm and less of a point of contention that results in resistance to the change.
You see, these examples, can easily be likened to the change that takes place within organisations. A by-product of aging is that we become more mature, thus improving our ways of doing things and our interactions with people. The goal of change in an organisation is to improve the ways in which its business functions and the by-product of that is the growth and development of its workforce, that, upon accepting and adopting the change, aligns to the goals of the organisation and is therefore presented with an opportunity to thrive in this new state. Lamenting the change would only serve as a stumbling block, so in my opinion, and as the saying goes, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth".
Personally, I have realised that life is far too short to sweat the small stuff as it were. I have learned to embrace change with a view to look for the silver lining in all that I do and encounter. With any change that I have had to undergo for the betterment of an organisation I was a part of, I remained cognisant that the change being implemented, if bought into would also result in the betterment of myself. We should never fear change. We should rejoice in it and be thankful for yet another opportunity to move forward.
In the words of one of my favourite philosophers, "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." - Socrates