Change is good, so we are told, but it isn’t easy or straightforward for the people going through it or for those managing people going through the process.
Our expectations and goals, our plans or ways of approaching situations or tasks all seem to get forgotten or not taken into consideration. Blame can set in, no-one seems to be listening or caring anymore. I wish I had a pound for every time I heard the phrase "it’s not like it used to be…".
For some, change is a necessity to keep them interested, engaged and challenged. Those who know me understand that this is the way I like to work – my family note how I never cook the same meal twice! On the other end of the spectrum, predictability and always being sure that you will get the best outcome seems to suit others – I am sure you know of someone who prefers to holiday in the same place every year, because they know that they will enjoy it and it will be money well spent. Neither is wrong – it’s just different behaviour.
Changing behaviour is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping them to see a truth to influence their feelings.
It is not feasible to ensure that when we enter into a time of change in the workplace we can cater for everyone’s individual needs – how could we? Business change is healthy and needed to maintain a competitive edge. It has been a very long time since I have come across anyone who has not gone through change at work – it is indicative of coming through a global recession.
But how well do businesses cope with change? Some seem to get their people engaged with change and on the journey while some struggle to get through it without huge financial losses. And furthermore – how do you measure how successful the change process has been? Is it clear from the beginning what you are measuring in terms of losses or gains?
It would certainly help within the planning stages to not only have a clear picture of what 'good' looks like, but be clear in the communication of this to the individuals who will be affected. Having recently gone through a change programme, I would like to share with you my thoughts around how Thomas could support you throughout this process.
Firstly, you need to understand a few key elements:
- What motivates people?
- What are their strengths?
- How do they prefer to receive communication?
- And the big one: how can I manage and support them through the process with minimum disengagement?
Additionally you should consider:
- Am I comfortable with the process myself?
- Can I answer their questions?
- How can I build trust?
- How do I need to modify my behaviour to achieve this successfully?
A big ask? A personal investment of time and effort? Yes! But this investment far outweighs the associated costs of disengagement.
A lack of understanding of both ourselves and those around us can lead to serious issues, particularly when trying to engage everyone during times of change. Using the DISC model of human behaviour, we can learn to identify the different behavioural preferences of individuals and how to adapt our own behaviour to suit the individual. Recognising our differences, knowing that we will act and react in our own individual way, provides a powerful way to manage, motivate and influence others through change. The Thomas PPA, based on the DISC model, is a simple assessment, but the reports to support this type of planning and communication are unique. You can even build your own, which focuses on the information that will help someone deal with change. Check out our sample report to see how the PPA can help you support your team.
By being clear on the four stages and by understanding individual preferences for each stage, keeping your team with you on the change journey may be simpler than you think. So what are they?
Step 1 – Communicating the change
This is the 'big bang!' Each person’s perspective is different and the same piece of information given to two people can produce two completely different reactions. Ensuring that the change is presented and communicated in a way that appeals equally to a range of different people within the organisation, will allow each employee to navigate their way through the change process in a way that works best for them.
Step 2 – Keeping them engaged
You have announced the plans for change, now you need to be conscious of the response from your people. This is where you need to look out for signs of disengagement and understand how to resolve it.
Step 3 – Managing and motivating
Continuing on the engagement path, this stage is about making your people feel valued during change. As we start to come out of the other side of the process, you can maintain engagement through personal development. By this stage, you know where you are going and you are aware of any gaps. By really understanding your workforce, you can train into those gaps more easily.
Step 4 – Coaching for performance
This final stage is where you begin to see successful implementation of your change taking shape. However, this is only the beginning! This stage is about new beginnings for all and understanding that continued coaching is essential to maintain high performance and success.