The following article contains adapted content from the author’s book “WE CAN LEAD: A Guidebook of Personal Leadership and Self-Coaching.”
“If you are entrusted with bringing about change, you are
likely possessing the knowledge needed to change the
organization and you might have a plan – but knowledge
is not enough. You have to apply yourself to each of these
interactions in a deeply authentic manner. People don’t care
how much you know until they know how much you care.”
– Doug Conant
We as leaders are the coaches for the team, and we need to master the change management competency area. It is natural to roll out all the change initiatives we are experimenting with while building our software solutions, but how do we develop this skill? When we roll out any new changes, be it organizational or structural modifications, process modifications or role reforms, or even marrying someone, we require relying massively on the change management team or on our change management capability.
Coaches are the key change agents in a transformation process, and it is fundamental to polish this skill in order to improve and impact the transformation process.
Change management is defined as the process, tools, and techniques that are used to carry out the people side of the change in order to accomplish the expected business outcomes.
The change management process is the array of steps or tasks that a change management team or a change leader follows to implement change management in order to encourage individual transformations and ensure that the project satisfies its expected outcomes.
Usually, changes follow through the phases depicted below:
In the team, when we start experimenting with a new way of working, we observe this Denial and Resistance phase. We consciously challenge ourselves and focus on what is our vision and how we can explore a better approach to minimize the Chaotic stage. A lot of uncertain parameters increase the Resistance phase. This is how today’s world is operating. One needs to have an open mind to Explore new directions.
We ask our team members to look at their filters and see if we have to re-program the filters. Our biggest endeavor is finding out the answer to this question: how do we diminish the emotional struggle in the transformation journey?
It also factors by the speed of which we try to adopt this new way of working. From the statement “This cannot be done here,” to, “Shall we discover more if it helps us?” We need to have a lot of energy to pass through the discovery phase, as we are not sure if it will help us to perform better.
The small baby steps are:
- Set the goal.
- Assess the progress.
- Check the resources.
- Explore alternatives.
- Experience new outcomes.
- Check the emotional state.
- Have fun.
- Pump more energy, and move on.
Once we swing through the numerous zones, it creates a rhythm.
In all phases, we recognize the changes, recognize people’s emotions and actions, and course-correct wherever applicable.
Pain–Gain Analysis is done for every moment, enduring an optimism attitude is the way to accomplish the journey. We apply all these experiences to our personal change management approach as well.
Also, we focus on how fast we can move from the Denial phase to the Commitment phase. Occasionally the team is caught in the exploration phase. It could be a trap. We need to recognize and swiftly come out of this trap.
Let us move fast in each phase; The more we stay in the resistance and exploration phase, the longer it takes to manage our emotions like helplessness, uncertainty, anger, and frustration. This is the hardest part of the cycle.
It is essential to set an appropriate vision that will enable us to come out of these initial phases. Imagining a magnificent world is the key to set the vision. This journey can be overcome by any individual or team by setting an inspiration vision.
With what we have learned in the change management drive, let us follow these steps to implement our change initiatives:
- Why are we changing?
- How are we changing?
- What are we changing? (Strategic Thinking)
At this stage, we need to clearly communicate the big purpose. A strong vision regarding the change is expected from the leaders. A high-level guideline about how to change needs to be put in place. A structural approach about the whole change in initiative and how it has to be executed also needs to be put in place. As change agents, we should have big-picture thinking. Ensure at this stage this picture is clear, and know that it is worthwhile to undergo a change process. The benefits are greater in the long run.
For Whom Are We Changing? (Alignment)
All the team members impacted by the change process need to take care and communicate one-to-one. Involve the entire staff in the change process. Get along with them and take them with you on the change journey.
As a change agent, you should have a habit of getting along with most people. It takes time, but as a team, we need to understand all the impacted team members.
What Is Their Behavior? (Support All)
Explain the positive side of the change. Motivate them for the reforms. Understand their side and their feedback when they voice their concerns to the concerned team.
How Are We Building up Their Knowledge for a Change?
Motivate people for the change process. Give direction to the impacted people. encourage them to conquer fear. Develop the journey map for them. If the jobs are impacted handle this issue with absolute care.
Provide a one-to-one counseling session. Provide training to enhance knowledge. Create a curriculum to empower individuals.
What Are Their Feelings?
Grant importance to solicit the feedback and thoroughly implement the plan to address their feelings. Have a session with all the impacted team members. Keep time for them and arrange a slot for the discussion.
Make it safe and open to have a dialog.
How Are We Communicating the Changes?
A systematic communication plan is vital. Convey the message in a skilful manner and ensure that it reaches the appropriate stakeholders.
Gather criticism and have it addressed to get the real flow.
Change management is a journey. Each leader needs to ensure changes and transition through all the phases for the common vision.