Change FAQs Part 3: Change Challenges & learnings, Impacts of COVID on Change
The final instalment of our FAQs from that time we partnered with General Assembly to host the "Introduction to Change Management" webinar on Wednesday 24 June. The lunch & learn for people curious about how to get into Change Management as a profession was super short. We didn't get to all the questions, so we've been answering them on our blog. If you've missed Part 1 on Getting into Change or Part 2 on Leading Change, take a trip back in time to get yourself up to speed for the questions below.
1. Getting into Change (see Part 1)
2. Contracts & pay (see Part 1)
3. Certifications (see Part 1)
4. Leading change (see Part 2)
5. Change challenges & learnings (this one!)
6. Impacts of COVID on Change (this one!)
5. CHANGE CHALLENGES & LEARNINGS
Q. Lata, how do you convince/persuade the people to accept, embrace, and embed the changes if even you yourself are not convinced of the benefits of a business change?
I think this is my very favourite question! Four choices here, buddy:
Find the true business benefits or get people to come up with it themselves. This is where NLP comes in really handy, because I chunk stakeholders up to get to the actual benefits for impacted teams. Or, I run emotionally immersive trainings that connect people to the change.
Change the change. Provide feedback to the project team of what could be tweaked or improved to be confident in the benefits. Even better, do UX (such as user testing) or get team feedback or stakeholder feedback to bolster your own opinions. As Change - you are not the business. You are the facilitator of the business', users' and impacted teams' needs.
Fake it 'til you become it. Trust that the leaders and project know what they are doing, and find ways to change your perspective. Be the Doubting Thomas and gather enough proof points so you believe.
Exit the change (a.k.a quit). This is if you really personally have an ethical conflict with the change. That drains your soul. Protect your energy. Get out as soon as possible. (Remember - I'm a Coach, too!)
Q. Have you been in scenarios where you did not deliver the change management result (for whatever reason) to the satisfaction of those who pay you? If yes, how did you deal with it?
Love love love this question! Not to my knowledge. Misses here and there yes, a little stakeholder conflict here and there absolutely, but overall every change I've worked on, I've gotten great feedback and almost everyone has really seen the benefit of Change Management (incl. those who pay me - my contracts always get renewed). I have to caveat this though - as a Change Manager, the project disbands, I don't sit in the business, and I am moved on to the next project. This is the great shame of projects rolling off so quickly, and the absolute focus on embedding the change before this happens. The other thing to remember is - you don't own the change. The business does - and the business has to come to the party to participate in the project and the handover and accept it. I've seen great examples where the change hasn't had the time or support to stick or embed within the project context, so the business has led the charge embedding the initiative. This is FANTASTIC! This is commitment from the business to own the change ongoing. I always remember a presupposition (assumption) of NLP - "There is no failure, only feedback." Another is - "Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have." So as a Change Manager, remember your Circle of Influence and Circle of Control, do the best job possible, care deeply for those you work with and land the change to, and you'll have done great work.
Q. Awesome webinar Lata!!!… What would you say your biggest challenge is in Change Management?
Having the freedom to just do Change because the project is well-run, well-resourced, and well-supported. I'm super passionate about building up the Project Management profession because I've worked on projects where a Change Manager has been hired (i.e. me) but there is no experienced Project Manager. Either there is none, or a quasi-one. Project Management is a job unto itself, and it needs to be done well (see the Change Manager vs Project Manager question from last week's FAQs). Without it - I often jump in to close the PM gap (or other resource gaps - comms, training, process, business analysis) and while I still deliver great Change work: it's not my forte, it's not my skillset, and it's not my passion.
Q. What's a time you thought you had the right Change Management approach, but it backfired. What did you learn from it?
I always reflect and I try to run PIRs on all our Changes. I've never had like a whole Change Approach backfire, but I've had misses here and there. One I remember well is my training style with one change. Most training is completely boring and a waste of time - I'm a trained presenter and coach so I bring immersive elements in (I wrote a whole article about it). My style is a very different experience for some people, so can confuse and surprise them and cause resistance. Mid training-program, I quickly had to let go of several immersive elements. And interestingly afterwards, I had attendees coming up to me saying it was the best training ever, they loved it. And remember - I care about results. Did the training help the change stick? Yep - I know it did because I built in the elements to touch people's hearts, as well as their minds, and I seeded and embedded learning into their bodies and their mind's eye. What I learnt - keep doing what I know works, at an appropriate level that will pull the teams to change but not be so powerful that it pushes them away! You've always got to meet people where they are and take them to where they need to go.
Q. I am a Transformation Program Manager, and while people are usually quite excited about the change, as the program progresses, they see it happening and it becomes very difficult to keep them engaged and open to the change. What do you reckon are the ways to mitigate this?
Big questions and I could write a whole blog post, so let me signpost three ideas:
Run a visioning exercise - get people to come up with their own inspiring visions that keep them warm at night and light them up from the inside out of what the future will mean.
Chunk the big transformation down to mini milestones - keep people's motivation going and the overwhelm down by drawing out the benefits of each milestone.
Remember change is a process, not a destination - for big transformations, do Change Management for each milestone, beneath the umbrella of the program Change Approach.
Book a time with me - there could be a lot of different things going on here.
6. IMPACTS OF COVID ON CHANGE
Q. Do you believe that we will see a huge growth in Change Management roles/careers as a result of COVID-19 going forward?
Yes! The market is a bit quiet at the moment (July 2020) but I predict change will explode come August/September and the best companies will want to support it properly. Start pivoting now, so you're ready for the tsunami.
Q. How are you delivering in the current Corona environment without F2F?
Everything is virtual. Check out all the free Reimagine Remote guides I wrote at the very start of corona for how to bring normally in-person experiences to life virtually - training, workshops, networking and conferences.
Q. What impact will a large number of people working from home have on Change Management?
We have to learn and create new ways to facilitate our work, the same as everyone else! Biggest things are building relationships, running workshops, delivering training.
Q. Speaking about building relationships with colleagues, what topics would be good to break ice and gain trust with stakeholders?
Probably not so Change-focused this one. At the moment - anything to do with COVID, lockdown, etc! Or even joking and saying "Let's not talk about COVID!"