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Change management: what does that mean?

This is a big topic for organizations and this is definitely one of our areas of expertise. Each time we got brought into an organization; it was because it needed to change drastically. Transitions and transformations are very special. When you do this, you can really acknowledge that it is a specialty and not everybody is suited to manage change in organizations.

What does it take from an individual to manage change? 1. Determination: you should be driven by your goal. You will have lots of hindrances, lots of frustrations and resistance. You will evolve into a very unstable environment with lots of uncertainties and lots of emotions. You need to carry the vision all along the way for you and for your team. You need to be strong as a rock because around you a lot of people will crumble, will give up and will resist.

2. Positive: during change, the vast majority of the emotions will be negative. Besides the people who are directly involved with the project that is driving the change, everybody outside of the inner circle will carry bad energy. A lot of people will not believe you can make it, others will wish you to fail, others will be supportive and others will just be spectators but not really willing to take the risks associated. You will need to know when to listen and when to get your turtle head-on. The buzz around you can destruct you and lead you to make the wrong choices.

3. Risk-taker: you must like to take some risk. You know how to balance risks and results. You should know when to push, what to give, what not to give. It is a constant balance on what and when you get to your point. A lot of people do not manage to do it because they want to get it all without giving up anything and this is just not possible. You need to be OK with non-perfection. You need to understand what it means. It does not mean you have lower standards. It means you know that in order to achieve your highest standard, you will have to go through different phases; the first one being far from your perfection, but this is just one step, you can see beyond.

4. Fast: you need to move and know how to make decisions. A lot of failures are due to people who are not making hard choices. It is about not losing the momentum and moving one step at the time. People will not always like the choices and will certainly tend to emphasize the negative but you need to be OK with this. Think that without those choices, the organization would not be where it is at this time. I have seen lots of organizations willing the change but never making it because they were not moving and not ready to make the decisions and be OK with the risks associated.

5. Expertise: you need to know what you are talking about in many areas as people need to be able to trust you. You do not follow a leader who drives change who does not know what he is talking about, who has not done it before and who does not convey confidence. I had been sometimes accused of being too positive. I believe it is because I know what I am doing and because I have gone through this already. As we say fear comes from the unknown. When you know it, you are not as much afraid. You know your way through it and you just apply your technique one step at the time.

What does it mean to an organization to go through a transformation? 1. Trust: trust the leaders who are designated to make it happen because they know what they are doing as they have done this before. Support them and provide them the tools to be successful. The leaders need to be unified. Anytime there was not a unity on the subject, there has been a failure. Put the right person in charge as otherwise, you will just not reach the goal you have.

2. Start: you need to start with something and be OK with the results. You need to know that it will not be perfect right away and will come with a price. You need to be ready to pay the price that will be associated.

3. Forget the past: you need to be ready to say goodbye to your past. The leader will know what to carry from the past but lots of processes, technologies, skill sets, and structure will change with the new organization. You cannot just sit on what worked for you in the past and believe that it will be possible to stay with it forever.

4. Be patient: do not judge too fast. Take the time to measure the benefits and do not believe that all the issues are coming from the change project. The issues arising might come from an old process that did not get changed to accommodate the change. You have to attack the issues from all areas and not judge prematurely.

What are the main obstacles you will face in front of change? People! This is the main obstacle. You will spend a lot of your time just managing people and their emotions. The people will go through many steps and you will have to help them go through. It is emotionally challenging for them but you have to let them express themselves during this time. No matter how open you are and listen, they will always have criticism and easily forget where they are coming from. You will have to manage your team, the team of your partners (because you cannot succeed by yourself) and the management as everybody will be going through the same emotions, doubts, and frustrations during the period. No matter which organization I had been brought in to manage change, there were challenges. The challenges were all in the same area, to different degrees, but always similar. Change is first about people management and then about the process. There is before, during and after. You need to prepare the field and the people, you have to make them run and then you have to get them comfortable with what just happened and understand clearly that this is just the beginning and not the end. They fist not believe in it, then they will see that ‘’Oh my god, this is actually happening’’ so they will start to panic and then it will be there and they will have to adjust.


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