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If You Aren’t Driving Change, It’s Driving You

We had a great turnout for our recent webinar entitled “If You Aren’t Driving Change, It’s Driving You:  Best Practices for Managing Change”.

If you weren’t there, well, we missed you!  We had well over 500 participants for the hour long session where we took a bit of a deep dive into 3 different models of change and how you can get help finding a change model that fits your organization’s outlook and goals.

But the crux of the webinar was really devoted to the people side of the equation, not a vendor or even a model.  Because change management by definition is getting your stakeholders to BEHAVE differently – right out there in front of God and your customers!

Project management of the change effort is important, but people make or break your change efforts.  So the webinar was less about how to do a project plan and more about what your humans need in the way of change management.

Now people react viscerally to change – positively or negatively – and it is up to your leadership skills and those of your team to make sure your people have a reason to change, understand what they are changing to, and can master the change you put before them.

We borrowed the analogy of a bucket or a bank account from the Center for Creative Leadership who just recently published some brand new research that found not everyone does poorly with change.  In fact, some do well, so why is that exactly?

What the Center found was that people do better with change when the positives outweigh the negatives.  Think about that bank account.  If you are constantly withdrawing from your reserves, you eventually run completely out (financially and metaphorically).  But if you expend some coin and some comes back to you, your bank account stays reasonably full.  And that’s the magic to change.

Our responsibility as leaders is to communicate and craft a change message that helps our staff get some deposits as well as some withdrawals when dealing with change.

So I have to learn a new system, huh?  Does it make the work easier?  Does it allow for results and care to be delivered faster?  Do I save steps?  What’s in it for me/us?

These are the types of things all stakeholders will feel, and you have to think this through at multiple levels of your organization, so all stakeholders are understood and can hear the message that fits their work.    A local CNA, LPN and a regional nurse will all probably look at change through a different lens.  And yes, you have to know at that level how they are likely to react so you can plan your launch.  So more homework upfront pays dividends during launch.

The other best practice in change management is to own it.  You can have consultants that help, but at the end of the day (and the end of the engagement) you should make sure you know more than when you started about change management.  You are the advocate for your people, and your consultants are probably making a pretty penny, so you need to find a partner that is devoted to teaching you to fish the change management waters, not just have lunch on the veranda.  Good consultants will do that.  There are literally thousands out there that may not have your best interests at heart (imagine that).


Popular Questions on Managing Change

What if the change was made by the management above (years ago) but we need to implement it and the change is a lot more work on everyone’s plate? Because this decision was made a while ago, the reasoning behind the change is not clearly understood.

My answer to this one was they need to revisit the decision based on time (“years ago”).  As fast as things are moving these days, I would want to re-vet any decision that had any peach fuzz on it.  If it still has legs, mazeltov!  But you will need to find out what and why so you can communicate it to you people – all of them.  The fact that the question contained “the change is not clearly understood” is a recipe for disaster.  Not that the idea is bad, but the communication and training plan will have to have the why messaging for staff to understand.  Otherwise you just get a withdrawal and no deposit (see how that works?).

How do you address staff that says “This is how we’ve always done it?” and so they don’t want to change.

To me, this is a clarion call that staff had not been communicated with over the change.  It’s a good idea to have them help scope the change and make the decision if you can, so they have buy in.  But even if that isn’t practical, you still must communicate and train why you are changing and to what.  You just cannot arbitrarily say “Change” (even if it saves your money) and produce thousand line spreadsheets.  Your change effort will fail.  Spectacularly, I might add.  (Hint:  you’ll save MORE money over time if your people are on board)


Any thoughts on how to lead change when not all of the leadership is recognizing the need to support some of the components for successful change?

One of the steps in all the models is to have consensus among senior staff before implementing the change process.  Dig deep to get those quiet ones’ opinions.  Keep talking until everyone sees they will benefit.  It’s hard work but so needed.  People get tired during change, even when it is successful, so you will need those leaders all through the change process to keep the fires lit.


Well, anyway, these were just a few we fielded on the call.  It’s a bit hard to completely diagnose an issue via a chat question, but we gave it a go.  I hope the questions helped you see everyone is dealing with change.  Just like death and taxes, it’s one of the few givens in life! See how managing change is key to your success and get more resources here!

Here’s a link to the webinar if you want to do further research on those best practices or meet the models we showcased.  Enjoy and hope to see you at the next one!

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