With the wide range of clients I have around the world, I am able to spot trends based on what they are asking me to do. As the requests started coming in immediately after Christmas Day I have had a couple of weeks to look for the common threads and these are some of my conclusions.
The overarching issue is the demand for practical help. Organisations have been working along a change management development path over the last few years.
As recognition has grown about the importance of managing change well to ensure benefits from project spend are realised, there has been lots of training to educate staff in change management techniques. However, training has its limitations. It is great for increasing knowledge and explaining how to do things but to build real competence (and confidence) practice is needed. Using the toolkits my clients have built for themselves and working with the people they have trained in change, I am being asked to work alongside them to:
- Mentor those creating their own Change Plans
- Develop the capacity and capability for effective sponsorship
I use face to face workshops to mentor those creating their Change Plans by leading them through tailored workshops to identify all of the communication, persuasion and participation activities that take change from an idea to a reality. Those I am working with are not Change Management professionals. They are subject matter experts from the business and line managers who are already overwhelmed with a heavy ‘business as usual’ workload. They want simple templates, checklists, timelines and sample plans to follow.
I see my responsibility as building their capability by using my knowledge to develop a huge shopping list of ways they can manage their change. My shopping list is based in my experience of leading hundreds of changes which they don’t have the time to learn. So I distil my experience and give them a package of activities to select from based on the type of change, the culture of their organisation and their level of experience.
These workshops are tailored because after the initial announcement about the change, what happens next is dictated by what exactly is changing. One of my clients is developing a new target operating model which is triggering changes in their organisation structure. A lot of the change activities involve reassuring staff they have a role to play even if what they end up doing is different to their current role. Another client is pursuing a digital transformation which for them increases the automation of data input tasks, leaving staff to work more closely in the business launching new services for customers. This means many of the change activities involve the creation and testing of new processes and quality assurance standards.
Alongside running workshops I am being asked to provide oversight for internal change, spending regular, short bursts of time with these managers to help fix problems that come up and help them plan and deliver the next wave of change activities based on their progress so far.
The active and committed involvement of senior leaders in sponsoring the complete life of a change, from project scoping, planning and delivery through persuading and adopting the new project deliverables is still a big issue. The biggest stumbling blocks are:
- Getting senior leaders to turn up to some initial training for something they think they already do well.
- Getting them to put the true amount of time into sponsorship once they realise what is really involved.
I have found such a positive response to the training I provide that the key this year is working with those who head up the Change function in their organisations to create the sense of urgency within their senior leadership communities.
After all, like any change, those affected have to want to change so I will be using lots of driving forces, lots of survival anxieties and lots of emotional leverage to generate the intrinsic motivation for this change! (If you don’t know these terms, join me on my Change Management Practitioner course to learn the secrets!)
To sum up, for those of us in Change Management consultancy roles, this is the year to provide lots of practical help. If you want more on the latest trends in change management, join me at one of these on-line sessions Agile Change Management Events.