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What Is Change Management and Why Is It Important?
Change management is an overhaul of company systems to create a more updated and efficient, and accountable work environment. Change Management is a hot topic among organizations in today’s quickly changing world where we have to keep up with consumer and stakeholder demands, public safety policies, ever-increasing competition, technological changes, and new cultural understandings.
While organizations need change management, it can often be a point of frustration for leaders who try to implement a traditional change management approach. They don’t have time for extra training, people fall back to their old habits soon after and executives, managers, and employees get distracted by urgency. Meaningful change is a rarity in today’s organizational cultures.
The problem is that traditional change management is no longer effective. The good news is that if you turn the model upside down, you can get meaningful, measurable, and sustainable results in just a few months. Here are four ways breakthrough change management works differently from the traditional model.
Our New World Needs a New Approach to Change Management
1. Be outcome-driven and practical, rather a perfection oriented.
Traditional change management starts by educating people on the perfected processes and principles of change management. They are taught to follow a process that worked in the past but isn’t adjusted for today’s pressures.
Breakthrough change management (B STATE) takes an outcome-driven approach, starting with the leadership team defining the do-different approach to achieving goals while considering real-time constraints. Training and education are done at a later point in a much more focused way. While training and education are important, the best way to learn is by doing, not by sitting in a room or on a Zoom call listening to a lecture. Jumping into implementation gives teams a chance to start creating change immediately, followed by quick feedback and course correction.
2. Focus on collective leadership team behaviors, rather than on individual skill-building.
Traditional change management trains leaders in the individual skills of change management. This usually includes how to manage the people side of the change with emotional intelligence, communication, and coaching skills. Part of the training is to get leadership buy-in for the change. However, leaders have a hard time buying into something they’re not sure will work, putting the ownership back on the people doing the training.
B STATE change management doesn’t rely on individual leaders to lead the change. Instead, it utilizes leadership teams to identify how roles and expectations need to change at each level and how those changes link to each other to produce a different result. Team members take shared ownership and accountability for the changes essential for success. While leaders are needed for priority-setting and direction, it’s imperative that the entire team feel a sense of ownership for the change. This creates an environment of support, safety, and accountability among team members who must rely on each other’s skills, talents, and creativity to get the outcomes they’ve agreed upon.
3. Create shared ownership change, rather than assigning it to a function.
Traditional change management introduces the change and leaves it to the HR and project management departments to drive the change and individual leaders to manage their people in it from their functional role in the organization.
B STATE change management has leadership teams prioritize the most important areas to improve upon immediately. These then become the areas that HR and project management support with training and systems to ensure success, saving time and effort on everyone’s part.
4. Link new behaviors and expectations to your desired business outcomes from the start.
Traditional change management is usually tracked against the business goals, which is on track but doesn’t effectively link the culture or behaviors necessary to achieve those goals. This means the change is reliant on willpower, a very ineffective way to create change. While people can change their behavior for a short time using willpower, they will inevitably go back to their old ways the moment things get stressful or difficult, which is an inescapable part of making a big organizational change.
B STATE change management starts by linking business results and new role and behavior expectations by creating a unified picture of success. Then team relationships are inextricably tied to team outcomes and behaviors, a fact that is often missed by traditional change management consultants. By tracking all three factors related to creating change, you can identify the true breakdown areas and improve upon them by creating team habits that focus on both behavior and mindset.
How You Can Implement Breakthrough (B STATE) Change Management with Your Own Team
As for next steps, you can test this out in a simple way to see how it works with your team, regardless of the level of the team.
1. Define what needs to change as a team.
Looking at your goals and priorities for the year, answer the following questions as a team:
- What do we as a team and individuals need to do differently to be successful? (Identify three to five key differences as a simple title or statement.)
- For each item, ask: What would it look/sound/feel like if we were actually doing it? Be specific and behavioral. (i.e., a series of steps.)
2. Pick the highest leverage change and create a simple plan.
- Make sure that everyone on the team can take shared responsibility for implementation individually and collectively.
- Identify a time frame as well as what will most likely get in the way of making this shift.
3. Set a date to follow up and ask three questions.
- Did we do what we said we would do?
- How did we do at achieving the outcomes?
- What do we need to continue doing or change to get or continue to get those outcomes?
Traditional change management can only take an organization so far in today’s world. While the practices might seem nice and appear helpful at first, business teams revert to their old behaviors, leaving leadership feeling frustrated and effective change nowhere in sight. A breakthrough approach to change management gives you a different paradigm with which to implement organizational change so that you can let go of antiquated processes and start to experience real, lasting change in your organization.
This article was first published as a Forbes Coaches Council Post.