- July 2, 2013
- Posted by: Curve Group
- Category: Thought Leadership
The topic of change management is not new. We have the likes of John Kotter, William Bridges and Fortune 500 organisations such as GE, Ford, AT&T for thankfully lifting the credibility of change management in the business world. Most recently, it has been a trending topic of conversation in a lot of recent OD, HR and business blogs, and it’s understandably so. The Australian economy is impactful, a ‘slowdown’ is being experienced in many industry sectors. Organisations around the world are in flux, and Asia remains a growth engine with transformation activities abound.
We are seeing a lot of organisations either re-evaluating their strategic priorities and knuckling down to focus on cost and efficiency gains, or conversely they are introducing significant customer, technology and process change in a bid to gain market share. The significance and the demand of effective, practical and embedded change management practices are at an all-time high.
Having supported a number of multi-national organisations, from a range of industries on their change management practices in recent months – be it change education and awareness, change advisory support, change process design, change framework development or change execution, we thought we would take the opportunity to share our insights on the matter. Not necessarily anything mind-blowingly new here folks, but rather a validation of three critical factors to enable effective change management for consideration in your organisation.
1. Change management must be driven by the business, not HR
This is not to say that HR doesn’t play an integral part of the process, but they soley cannot be positioned as the leader and/or driver of change management activities. As Kotter put it many years ago – a leader’s role is to ‘prepare an organisation for change and help people cope as they struggle through it’. If the accountability of change management is outsourced to the HR team or consultant, effective change can’t stick as it is not owned by the people who directly influence engagement and strategy – the business leaders and frontline managers. What this means in practice, is that leaders and managers need the skills, understanding and tools to implement change well and to support people through the transition. HR’s role therefore is to act as an important educator, advisor and coach in this process.
2. Change management needs to be integrated with project management practices
The approach, methodology and activities for change need to be aligned and integrated with the business or project plan, not running in isolation or parallel. Too often we see change being managed as a secondary activity outside of the project team, resulting in a repetition of activities (e.g 2 x stakeholder management plans, 2x communication strategies), ineffective use of resources and a general state of confusion from the project/change team and the business.
Whilst there are many different theories on the extent to which change and project leadership needs to be intertwined, we know that change management enables successful project outcomes. Therefore, integrating the two practices makes a lot of sense from an efficiency/effectiveness perspective, and it goes hand in hand with Point 1. If the changes instigated by the intended business project/initiative are being identified, planned for and managed by the project team (supported by HR/change managers/change advisors/etc) the organisation can reap far greater project and change success.
3. Change management is about ‘mindset’ not just process
Engaging people is at the heart of effective transformation. Change is not purely something to be tactically ‘managed’ by executing a structured process and ticking off a checklist of change strategies. Managing a team or organisation through change takes leadership and a mindset that acknowledges the concerns, needs and reactions of the individuals experiencing it. It requires a certain understanding and skill set, as well as a robust process, to enable successful outcomes. Meaning, change management can’t be seen as a ‘one size fits all’ methodology or process to complete. Rather, it should be recognised as an integral business philosophy and leadership behaviour that is about harnessing the most important (and often expensive) business asset – the people.