4. Managing ongoing change
HR.com thinks we need to get a seat at the proverbial table (see part 1 of the series). I think we already have it, but we need to keep it. There’s one thing we have in common. In order to get or keep a seat at the table, we need to make changes in how we operate within the business, or how we affect the business with what HR does. In short, HR’s progress depends on our ability to create change. Our ability to succeed in creating change depends on our ability to implement or manage change.
There is a new theorem about change:
Business journals are also brim full with articles about change. Ignore these too because they typically start from the Machiavellian premise that “people hate change”.
This is nonsense of course. People LOVE change – in fact they can hardly get enough of it.
Through the 1990s the UK DIY retail multiples experienced growth of over 185 per cent and in 2004 the sector was estimated to be enjoying a turnover of just over £7.3 billion. People hate change? And when the paint brushes and electric drills are put away for the night, these same people are tuning-in to makeover shows and gardening programmes.
People hate change? No, if people are involved in change (Do It YOURSELF) and their input to the process is valued they will readily engage with it. ((Parsley, Andy, December 6, 2005. “A roadmap for employee engagement.” Retrieved from http://www.management-issues.com/2006/5/25/opinion/100138-7055.asp on August 12, 2006.))
This is really quite brilliant. At the most senior levels, you’ll want to involve a set of managers and leaders in the decision process. This is so that when you want to roll out your changes to the rest of the organization, you’ll be able to have a set of respected leaders championing the change for you – the rest will likely follow. Why will those respected leaders be your spokespeople? Because they have already approved that the course of action are indeed the best for the organization.
While Andy says that you don’t need to manage change for people, but instead you just need to involve them in the change process, I’ll counter it with you only need to convince them that the change process is good for them. Let’s go back to the home improvement scenario. If you have a perfectly well functioning kitchen, but I tell you that you can have a new oven that will heat up much faster, maintain a more constant temperature, and has convection to boot, you’ll probably be willing to put up with the 4 hours of installation time to get the new oven. I didn’t have to involve you in the decision making, I just had to convince you it was good for you.
Getting to the root of change, communications and training are critical – I don’t want to belittle toe functions. But communications and training are only tools to use on the road to behavioral change. If your communication does not adequately convey why the future state is better, change does not follow. If, on the other hand, you can convey the positive impact on each person, cost center, business unit, organization, people will willingly follow. The root of real change management rests with behaviors, and behavioral change rests with understanding the personal advantage each employee receives.