Organizational change management is the process used to help people, in an organization, to let go of their current activities and behaviours and adopt different behaviours, activities and interactions to enable a new work environment.
Change management helps people to adapt and adopt changes within your organization with the least amount of discomfort and disruption possible. Change management practices focus on building true commitment to the change initiative by fully engaging the individuals involved.
Before talking more about change management it’s helpful to understand the two distinct but related dimensions of organizational change:
1. The Change Event
The first dimension of change is the event. For example, a change event may be the implementation of a new software system, the merger of two departments or the acquisition of a new line of business. The change event represents the decision to make or implement a change.
As the Event change is:
- Defined by a distinct beginning and end
2. The Transition through the Whitespace
The second dimension of change is the transition. The transition is the personal journey every person will need to make to realize the benefits and intended results of your change event. I find it helpful to think of the transition dimension as the Whitespace. That’s because it is the space between where your employees are when a change event is announced and where you need them to be in order for you to achieve the desired results of the change event.
As the Transition or Whitespace change is:
- Context sensitive
- Undefined by a clear beginning and end
This dimension is often overlooked and/or misunderstood by leaders. Yet, it can account for almost 80% of your success with change.
Organizations don’t change. People do.
New processes, forward-thinking strategies, and cutting edge hardware and systems may be changes critical to your organization’s success. However, these alone won’t carry your business over the finish line. To achieve a return on your change investment you need people – your people – to bring them to life and make them work for your business.
Facilitating the transition through the whitespace of change requires different approaches and a different perspective than managing the change event. Just as the elements of the whitespace are intangible, so are many of the activities of change management. Organizational change management is less about managing the change event and more about enabling people to navigate, as comfortably and confidently as possible, their journey through the whitespace.
To enable and lead within the whitespace of change, you need to understand:
- How people naturally respond to change, and
- How to work with that natural response to help your employees make the transition.
The value of change management
Using and integrating change management practices will help you help your employees. It starts with helping them see themselves working comfortably, confidently, and competently in the intended new work environment – doing new tasks, using new skills, or even sitting in a new seat. Once they can see themselves being successful in this new environment, change management practices will help you create the conditions that promote and encourage them to move through the change process. Finally, integrating change management practices into your leadership practice will help reduce the stress and anxiety your employees experience with change.
Change management helps you focus on facilitating your team’s transition which in turn, helps your organization realize the value of the change much sooner. You can also reduce the disruption to your operation and prevent resistance to change. And the value of change management increases over time. Each time you enable healthy organizational change you increase both your organization’s and your team’s capacity for change. And that’s good for your business in the long term!
If you would like to learn more about how to increase your change management knowledge and skills in your organization, Turner Change Management can help. Contact us.
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