The difficult part of change management is not the management part – it’s the change part and the people part.
Resistance to change doesn’t occur evenly. Some people love change and find it exciting. In fact, if change happens infrequently, they may become bored.
But most people aren’t like that. Most people are happy with infrequent change and want to be left alone to get on with their jobs. And there are other people who hate any form of change. They love the status quo – even if they love to whine about it.
Understanding these 3 human responses to change is critical in knowing how to succeed at managing change.
These 3 responses come from 3 key factors within an organisation. Let’s discuss them briefly.
3 Key Factors
Personal Adaptability – People with lots of adaptability typically like change. They see it as a challenge, and as a challenge it is exciting. It is an opportunity to learn new things and to grow.
The lower the levels of adaptability, the more likely the person is to want the status quo. Change is perceived as a threat to the status quo. And change may even be a threat to the self. Nobody likes to feel threatened, so the natural inclination is to opt-out and resist.
Personal adaptability has a technical name – change fitness. Change fitness relates to a person’s beliefs and attitudes towards 3 aspects of reality – the self, others, and the situation.
An important point to understand about change fitness is that affects a person’s ability to learn. And understand this as well – change change is only difficult when it involves learning new things. So, the more new learning change involves, the more important it is for people to have high change fitness.
We (at The Change Gym) can measure how much change fitness a person has. And we can help people develop more of it. On average, we have been able to improve change fitness scores by 38% over 90 days. These improvements usually last over time.
Agile Messaging – We have mentioned that personal adaptability influences people’s attitudes towards change. And so does the information people receive.
Being adaptable is not the same as being willing. Change messaging targets the will. It seeks to establish buy-in.
It isn’t much use if adaptable people are not willing to engage in a change project. In fact, these are the very people you most want to engage, because they enjoy change, and they are good at it.
So, you need to establish the right messaging. We have research that gives us knowledge about what this messaging should be like.
Additionally, you might have willing people, but if they are not very adaptable people you still have concerns.
Business Agility – Change begins to work well when adaptable people willingly support change projects. But we also need something else.
People engage in change projects within an organisational system. This system consists of cultural elements, leadership and managerial styles, and certain processes, policies, and structures.
These elements of the organisational system can be supportive of people, but they can also contain errors that make it more difficult for people to engage in change successfully.
Getting these systemic elements working well is what business agility is about.
Successful change is easiest to achieve when adaptable people working in an agile business fully support the change project.
These are the 3 ducks you need to get in a row. It doesn’t get any easier than this.
That’s why our approach to managing change is heavily focused on learning, removing barriers to learning, and facilitating learning.
When people are adaptable and business systems are agile, there are fewer barriers to learning.
Yes, the normal management processes apply, as they always apply to any learning environment. But the secret is knowing how to promote learning.
With our background in educational psychology at the masters and doctoral level and years of experience managing learning environments, we can help you get the results you want.