The art and science of change management is due for a change.
#2 – Stop talking about change management as an event.
#3 – Use new models and move away from those based on grief management.
The reason these models were used by organizations was that consultants saw a parallel between grieving loss in health-related issues and grieving loss of a job, department. The grief models applied to business change worked well when change was an event. One could see a clear starting and stopping point of the change event, and then a path for recovery could be plotted out. This change strategy recognized the full range of emotions laid out in the health-related grief models. The concept of mourning the loss of the prior organization and job was quite useful in helping employees move through change.
- Change needs to be embraced not mourned.
- Resilient employees who know how to make change work for their own careers will embrace change and thrive with new change making skills.
- It is critical to learn how to develop organizational and employee resiliency.
In a new series of studies done with clients and via the Leadership Pulse we examined how employees respond to various types of change using something we call a Change Lens. Measuring employee perceptions of their personal rate of change and the rate of change of the group in which they are working (e.g. department or team), characteristics of successful change management could be modeled. These studies also involved gathering data on employee energy at work, employee engagement, fairness and confidence in a number of business factors. We tracked employee attitudes throughout various types of change processes.
Employees were positive about change because the models used were different. One of the theories that we use in change management work comes from protection motivation theory. This theory is useful if a change event or ongoing change process is designed to lead to different employee behaviors. Protection motivation theory has been used to develop interventions for large-scale attitude and behavioral changes in other fields (e.g. for people to stop smoking, change habits to improve health, etc.). The core concepts of the theory are:
- As you raise the emotional charge (sense of urgency to change), people need to feel confident they can be successful in this new environment. Thus, marketing processes become useful in creating interventions.
Organizations spend millions of dollars on change and transformation efforts. If they can take those resources and use them to build an agile and fast organization that expects change, they can stay ahead of the competition. Money spent on getting through one change does not have as high a return on investment because employees are waiting for the change to be over, and it will not happen; change will continue, and it will come around faster every time.
- Use sales and marketing models – not grief models
- Build employee coping skills
- Target emotion or urgency at the ‘right stuff’
- Measure employee energy and sense of urgency or readiness for change
- Use data to constantly retarget the message (just like marketing executives do with advertising campaigns).
The challenge for today’s leaders is to determine how to keep overall employee momentum and energy moving forward. Grief-based models and tools suggest to employees that change will end, and that is not the case. CHANGE change management starting today.