Change Management - The Why Of Change

Craig Nenke

change management for small and medium organisations

Change Management Isn't Just For Big Business

Yes, every enterprise can benefit from good change management practices, but many smaller organisations don't know it. Craig Nenke explains it here.Say "change management" to someone and wait for a reaction. If the person has worked at NAB, Telstra or another large corporate, they’ll tend to know what it is. And perhaps they'll mutter a disparaging comment about “soft” or “fluffy stuff.” People who’ve worked mainly in independent businesses, however, rarely know what it is. This is a conundrum: Why should people who work in large companies get more care than others in dealing with changes in business? Is it really just a luxury overhead that only big business can afford? No, it is not! I regard it as my mission to bring the benefits of change management fundamentals, principles and activities to independent business! In this brief piece I hope to persuade you of the ways in which it can benefit your business.
Firstly, what is change management? There are huge textbooks on the subject that don’t even define it! I define change management as

getting people ready, willing and able to adapt to and adopt a change.

A Real Life Example Of Necessary Change Misunderstood

One of my clients was an independent finance company that had developed a product in which one of the big overseas banks was interested. However, the large bank did not just want to review the product. They wanted to scrutinise all the company polices, processes and procedures – things like quality, IT security, facilities management, etc! My client had none of these things, and so had to quickly change into being a more process-driven organisation with documentation and so on.
You can imagine the resistance of the staff who had worked in a particular way for years and were quite happy with the status quo. The Directors hired me to help the staff develop the processes – but flat out refused to deal with any resistance. People were told, “We need to do it, so just get on with it.” Most didn’t even know the reasons why there was a sudden push for processes.
This illustrates a key change management principle:

Communicate WHY things need to change, not just what needs to change.

Compare These Two Change Management Messages

  1. “We need to document our processes so that we are more efficient in what we do”
  2. “This company has a substantial opportunity for growth. To take that opportunity we need to prove to others that we are a professional and credible organisation. We have done our best to be where we are today. And now we need to make the next steps together.”

You may appreciate the brevity of the first statement. But what does it make people feel?Firstly, the term “more efficient” conveys the clear signal that we are not currently efficient today. This may be true, but is it the fault of the reader/stakeholder?
Secondly, “more efficiency” or “more revenue” or “more profit” is hardly a sufficient message to incite change. In fact, it’s a bit like a parent saying to a child, “You will eat your dinner – because I like to cook”!

Is Your Change Message Good Enough?

Messages that are based on what is good for the organisation are not felt by individuals. It is not a good enough WHY. And people in all organisations need a "WHY" in order to change.
When I coached the Directors of this company to communicate the why with feeling like (2) above, there was resistance. But they were eventually prepared to give it a go. And once they did (and repeated it regularly), the mood in the office began to shift. With most (not with everyone – there will always be the cynics), their energy lifted and they felt they were contributing to something big and new together. The large bank was impressed, and they eventually signed a deal. 
It is not just staff in large companies who have to cope with constant change! Businesses of all sizes need to make changes, and communicating with staff needs to happen with any size business. Using some simple techniques such as communicating the WHY (with genuine feeling) can make your changes successful and help your business grow.

Are You And Your Team Ready For A Successful Change?

Why would you make change more challenging than it needs to be? Of course you would not, you want change to be as pain-free and fast as possible! For a free, no-commitment conversation about how Craig Nenke can help get your people ready, willing and able to adapt to and adopt a change, contact him directly or here through The NCP

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