Jay Fox, CMP, Line of Sight, LLC
Anytime you are preparing to manage change – you are also preparing to manage pain. The reason you are changing the status quo is that you can’t continue conducting business the same way any longer. Change is needed because you “want to” or “have to” change. Either way, you’re going to experience pain! The question is, “what degree of pain are you willing to live with?”
If you’ve ever been involved in a strenuous exercise or weight training program, then you’ve heard this before, “No Pain – No Gain!” This is also true regarding managing change. Implementing change is hard work and you can never eliminate all the associated pain. However, you can learn how to reduce the pain of change through effective management. No, you can’t accomplish it with a Vicodin or a stiff drink – that’ll only mask the pain. Eventually you’ll have to manage the pain, so you may as well address the pain early and properly.
Most of your pain will be a result of either a lack of sponsorship for the change, or active resistance to the change. For purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that you already have solid executive sponsorship for your change project (if not, we have bigger fish to fry – but that’s the topic of a future blog post).
When addressing change – it’s all about people! Computers do what they’re programmed to do (in theory) – not so with people. People will either do what they are comfortable doing or what they can be convinced to do. Unless you really have your ducks in a row, convincing them to leave their comfort zone and make this transition will be your greatest challenge – and create the most pain – for you and them. This is where the pain of resistance rears its ugly little head. Leaving their comfort zone and moving into this new unfamiliar future state will be uncomfortable for many. If you promote open two-way communications, provide appropriate training to update employees’ skills and abilities, and recognize employees for their accomplishments – you’ll stand a much better chance of gaining their commitment to support the desired changes.
When the plan is communicated to the “target” population who will be impacted by the changes, much of the pain can be avoided if the change is put in the simplest terms – W.I.I.F.M. (What’s In It For Me?). If you play devil’s advocate and anticipate the questions that will be asked – and prepare good answers – the target population will see that you understand the impact the changes will have on them. Questions like this are a good start:
- Why are we making these changes now and why is this important to me?
- If it ain’t broke – why fix it?
- With all the other projects going on in the organization, can we successfully take on this additional change?
- What would be the downside if we didn’t do this now?
- How will this impact the way I do my job?
- Will I receive training on how to use <specific applications or processes>? What kind of training will I receive and when?
- Is there a place for me in the organization if my function is eliminated or I cannot be retrained?
They will appreciate that you actually put some thought into your plan. This will put you in a much better position to manage the change (and the associated pain) by thinking ahead and being responsive, instead of constantly being reactive and defensive.
In summary…if proper communication is practiced throughout the change process, the staff is adequately trained and prepared for the desired state, and they are recognized/rewarded for supporting the changes, you can actually turn that pain of resistance into a gain, based on swifter adoption of the desired changes and a more successfully accepted and executed project.
“Management problems always turn out to be people problems.”
John Peet, Journalist/Economist
If you have any questions about how Line of Sight can help your organization turn pain into gain, please visit our website at www.Line-of-Sight.com, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 410-696-2610.