10 Steps to Manage Change at Work and at Home
Change seems to be OK when it is subtle and when we are unaware of it. Change is also very OK when we choose it for ourselves.
Imagine what life would be like if nothing ever changed? Maybe change is a good thing.
Why then doesn't it feel OK when someone else is telling us to change?
In all our humanness, we don't actually like change. It can make us feel uncomfortable. We like things to be just as they are, just as we want them to be. We want people to relate to us and accept us as we are. We do like to experience new things and change is OK when we are not aware of it - just don't tell me that I HAVE to change.
Think back to when you were a teenager. What you believed in, how you acted and responded to the world around you. Now, come back to today. Think about how you currently act and respond to the world around you. Is there a subtle difference to how you acted and thought as a teenager to how you act and think today? Your core values and beliefs are possibly the same, but along the way you have integrated subtle changes to the way you act and think. Some people might refer to this as maturing, getting older and wiser. Change that occurs within us is also referred to as personal growth.
We have many experiences in life and learn what our preferences are for us - what we do and don't like. With each small decision we make on what we do and don't like, a subtle adjustment occurs within us and we undoubtedly change. We grow.
Then there are those people that appear to never have changed as they got older. Maybe this is only our perception. Even if you stand still, change is bound to occur. Just like in nature when the wind consistently caresses a rock face, the rock changes its' form. It may take years to see a difference, yet there has been change.
Change Management is not about a group of people that go about implementing random acts of change.
Change Management is about how we manage change.
Changes can occur at home and at work. Change might be required for ourselves, our children or our family dynamics, change might be required within the company we work for. Change happens regularly and all around us.
When we are told that we HAVE to change, it is not easily received in our brains. We instantly feel as though we have been judged, that we are doing something wrong. We start to move into a place of uncertainty as we are left wondering what the future will look like, will I be OK. When we are told to change, it can feel as through we are spinning out of control, "The one thing I could control was me and now you're telling me that I have to change me?" "I don't want to change me. I like who I am and I like how things are currently done."
There are plenty of times when you might be told to change in your life, For Example:
- When trains / buses change their timetables. The public is informed that they need to adapt to the changes.
- Your children are getting older and you need to adapt to the times.
- The company you work for is changing a product, their structure, a system and you need to embrace the change.
- You need to change an attitude or behaviour to "fit a certain mould".
- Technology is moving at a rapid pace and you need to change how you operate.
- Family dynamics change with co-parenting or moving house.
- Classes at the local gym have changed and you need to change your routine if you want to continue going.
These are all examples of times when change may need to be accepted, managed and implemented. Some we accept and others we resist.
We can choose to challenge change and resist it. We can rise up against change and fight for our right to keep everything just the way it is. We can choose to stay within the confines of our comfort zone and not adapt to changes because it feels safer, less challenging and less confronting.
Through resisting change though, it can consume us and leave us feeling worried, frustrated, angry and empty.
We can expend a lot of energy is adverse emotional states and throughout this process, be fighting our own personal growth and denying new experiences for ourselves.
When implementing change goes wrong.
You may have experienced change being managed poorly. You would know it was managed poorly because you would be in a state of resistance, fighting against the change. Any whispers about the change would be negative, people around you would be in doubt, fear or anger.
This can often occur in businesses. Leadership or Directors inform their managers of changes that are going to be implemented in the business. It is the managers' responsibility to inform their staff. The managers may not be in agreement with the change, they might not understand the change or the need for the change, have not been given time or steps to think through the changes, or don't know how to successfully approach staff with the changes. A manager may find all of this too overwhelming and can wind up dictating the changes to their staff using a "you have to change or else" approach. This becomes threatening to staff and has extremely negative consequences.
Managing change can also go wrong at home too. There are many examples that could be used here. To highlight a few common ones: Wanting to change some else's behaviour, moving house, changing the family dynamics such as co-parenting / sharing custody of children, changes to jobs that impact finances.
These situations can be emotionally charged as each person fights and resists change as they try and remain in control of their life. One person may believe that change is the best or only way. They recognise that change needs to happen. They may not like that they have to change a situation (we don't like being forced to change) and as a result, the change that is required is often blurted out, said in the heat of the moment or even yelled at the other person. People can be left feeling upset, angry, hurt and frustrated.
When we are told that change is coming, that it is on the horizon and that we MUST embrace it, we feel pressure to accept and adapt to the change in order to transition and evolve.
People struggle to manage change when they are not engaged effectively. This is when we react the most.
To prevent resistance, we need to engage people in a supportive way. Change will have a better chance when there is less resistance.
We can adapt to change.
We can embrace change.
We can help make change a simple and painless transition for others - if we choose to and we know how.
If you are the person that needs to communicate change whether at home or at work, you can choose how you impart this information.
10 Steps to support you in initiating change successfully.
- Understand what the change is (for yourself first)
This is where you need to seel yourself on the change. Ask yourself, "What are the reasons for the change?" "What benefits will come from the change?" List the pros and cons for the change. Even when you have accepted a change in your own mind and you are comfortable with it, pulling out the positives and negatives at this stage will help you with managing transitions with other people.
Answer the following questions will help your brain process what the change might mean for you as well as for other people.
Complete each sentence with the change that needs to be made and then answer that question for yourself.
What will happen if I do __________________________________?
What will happen if I don't _________________________________?
What won't happen if I do _________________________________?
What won't happen if I don't _______________________________?
- How will the change happen?
This step is about gaining clarity on actions that will be required throughout the change process.
Write down the actions that will need to be taken in order to reach the final stage of the change to ensure it is successful.
You might write these actions as a list or even place them onto a timeline.
Think about what actions / steps are needed to create this change. What will the change look like when it is implemented?
Get clear on the What, How and When.
- Who will the change impact?
Make a list of the people that this change will have impact to.
Will the change impact you? Your family? Your partner? Will it impact your work colleagues? Employees? Your company? Your customers?
Being aware of who this change will impact helps you to step outside of yourself and enables you to look at the change from a different and new perspective.
- How will it impact this person / people?
This is where you need to walk in the shoes of the other person in your mind.
Sit and think about the person / people that the change will impact.
Think for a moment about what might be going on in their life.
How might this change impact them?
How might they react?
What concerns might they have?
What support might they need?
This step really prepares you for success with other people.
- Stop dumping and running! Give people time to digest the information.
So many people have changed dumped on them at the last minute and the messenger just walks away!
Managers often leave changes to the last item of a meeting agenda. They adopt and attitude that people will just have to suck it up and accept it and by at least getting the message out there, they have done their duty as a manage and will avoid any negative responses. Tick that box. Wow. They couldn't be more off track with how to initiate change. That box is not ticked, in fact delivering a message of change this way creates Pandora's Box and the manager will have a long road of struggle ahead of them if this change is ever going to be implemented successfully.
Families can often have change dumped on them in the heat of the moment, or at inappropriate times such as whilst driving or right before everyone is about to leave for work or school or even at a BBQ or party.
DO NOT do this! People need time to process information. Treat the change and people with respect.
Make sure there is plenty of time to allow people to take in the information, formulate questions in their brains and then allow time for them to ask their questions! People need to absorb the changes and think about how it might impact them.
Set a time and have everyone that is involved in the change attend. Call for a family discussion or a team meeting.
Have everyone present and engage them in the process.
- Engage people that will need to adapt to the change by providing context.
Providing context to the change is the key to success. Context will help changes be received more positively.
Engagement also relies on the language we use. The narrative we use. Our pitch, tone, pace and body language.
You might tell someone that "this is the way it is so get on with it, you will have to change". The risk here is losing engagement and rapport and the people / person may react negatively and never embrace the change, choosing to remain in a state of resistance. Honestly, if you are not demonstrating respect of your people or of change then you will be challenged in implementing changes.
Bring people on the journey. Help people digest the impact the change may have on them by providing context. One way of doing this is to use a narrative. This involves providing context through using a story-telling approach.
How to create a narrative
Create the scene
Talk about what the current situation is. EG: You may have noticed......; We have always......
As you talk about what is currently happening, include examples of real scenarios and reactions. An example of the situation that surprised you. and example of someone who was impacted, an example of how someone reacted.
EG: Customers are really being impacted by ........................... (current process); I have noticed that ..................; We have been really comfortable being / doing................
Things have been normal up until now. Something has happened and now change in required. What happened for change to be needed?
Use examples here that are real to the situation.
EG: Everything was OK and then ........(this) happened.
Provide a reason why
Provide the reason why the change is now needed. This is the turning point.
EG: Something needs to change; If we continue like this ...................
Keep these steps as positive as possible. Using the glass half full approach, that change will be positive and is a good thing, will help people to accept the change more easily.
The way in which you bring people on the journey will influence their reactions.
- Introduce the change. Present a clear plan of action.
Straight after the narrative and providing the reason why, the next step is to introduce the stages that will involved in the change process.
This is what we planned for is step 2. We are now going to share this list / timeline with everyone involved.
This will provide people with clear visibility of the stages that will be involved in getting the change to happen.
- Explain what the change is.
- Explain how the change, new process or system will work.
- Talk about how it will impact people, specific jobs, customers, the family.
- Explain how the change will work - these are the benefits of introducing the change.
- Discuss the ways in which it will be different from the old way of doing things so that people are prepared in advance for those differences.
You may even choose to engage people further and ask them what stages they believe are needed to be in place for the change to occur.
This is also the time to discuss consequences - what will happen if change doesn't go ahead. You can refer back to your narrative for this and re-affirm what will continue to happen if change does not occur. Be mindful with consequences not to threaten people's jobs or people's current lifestyle as they will shut down and walk away from the meeting, away from the table in fear.
Ensure everyone is on the same page and aware of the stages that will be involved and expected.
- Address concerns
This means answering people's questions and overcoming their concerns. We do this through reading their body language, gauging their reaction and by being open and receptive to their concerns. Raise your empathy and listen intently.
If you don't have an answer to one of their questions, be honest. Tell them that you don't have an answer and let them know what you will do to source and answer. Make sure you come back to the person to follow up - even if you don't have an answer, still come back to the person and let them know what you have done to try and find an answer for them.
Having questions and concerns answered is one of the ways that people manage change - it provides more clarity and can offer them peace of mind.
- Provide regular, clear communication and check in with people. Help overcome any remaining concerns. Provide extra support, knowledge, education.
Stay in touch with everyone involved with where the changes are up to. which stage.
This is about following the actions that were outlined in step 7. Stay on top of the change process.
Talk about it in meetings, over coffee, over dinner.
Be regular with your updates.
Be clear with your communication - keeping it short and to the point.
Be honest and transparent - if a date for one of the stages is missed, let people know. Never hide these changes as this will cause uncertainty and a lack of trust in the process. You can also lose credibility with people.
Ask people how you can support them with the change, what their needs are.
Provide extra support, knowledge or training. Never assume this is not required. Even in a family dynamic, it may be of value to seek external counselling to provide extra support to individuals.
Continue to assist people in adjusting to the change with clear communication and support.
- Celebrate the successful integration of the change.
This is the most exciting part and is often overlooked. Once a change has been implemented, we have already moved on to the next change and we forget to reflect and celebrate what we have achieved.
Initiating and integrating change is MASSIVE. Celebrate this with people.
Choose a date in the future to acknowledge everyone for their success in integrating changes.
Place this date on your calendar as something to work towards.
Remember, this is not the due date of the change, this is a date that you think that the changes will be well and truly embedded. It may even be months after the change occurs. Choose a date to celebrate and think about what this celebration and acknowledgement will look like.
Congratulate people on their change management abilities.
Highlight what they did to adapt to the change - the journey they have been through.
Talk about the positive impact the change has had since it was introduced.
People respond well to reward and recognition.
- People don't like to change and there are steps we can take to manage change more effectively.
People don't like being told that they HAVE to change.
- Respect change and respect the people around you.
- We can choose to resist change.
- Change Management is the process by which we manage change.
10 steps to Manage Change
- Understand what the change is (for yourself first)
- How will the change happen
- Who will the change impact
- How will it impact people
- Stop dumping and running. Give people time to digest the information
- Engage people that will need to adapt to the change by providing context - use a narrative.
- Introduce the change. Present a clear plan of action
- Address concerns
- Provide regular, clear communication. Provide extra support, knowledge, education
- Celebrate the successful integration of the change