Change is a constant in today’s world and all successful companies know all too well that they need to constantly adapt to survive. But what is it that makes change appear so difficult, or at the very least necessitate a change management team as part of project delivery?
In attempting to answer that question, I began challenging the age-old adage that people simply do not like change. Employees would prefer to continue to do things the way they have always been done, because they are comfortable, because they know how and because change is scary to them.
While this might remain true to some extent, as organisations recruit from younger generations and technology advances are being embraced across the spectrum, this is becoming less of a given. New applications are being built and discovered by consumers every day, new ways of connecting, new ways of consuming content. And early adoption is key, even cool. At the same time, older generations are catching up and are becoming equally as adept at embracing new technologies. My 80 year grandmother Skypes, plays Candy Crush and has an active iTunes account.
Change today is not that scary thing that might ‘happen to us’ anymore. Change is something people are increasingly pioneering and embracing as a point of difference to their peers, colleagues and competitors. What we are seeing is new ways of working that make what we do and how we engage exciting, that shake up the apple cart, that open up new areas of development, that create new opportunities to get ahead, get noticed, engage with senior leaders and differentiate our skill set from those around us.
The challenge for project teams and change managers is recognising and utilising that energy and enthusiasm rather than curtailing it. It has become increasingly important to identify this, bottle the benefits that they perceive and sell them to others who are more resistant to the change. Sell the innovation as just that. Find the things that might be exciting or important to people and create pull.
We therefore cannot assume that people dislike change anymore. There will be early adopters and there will be people who are not in favour of change. The key, I believe, is recognising these two groups, and everyone in between, so that you can tailor an approach that delivers the best outcomes.
Use your early adopters as change agents in your change network to sell change benefits or as SMEs during implementation, and reward them with exposure to content, information, systems and senior leadership.
While at the other end, spend more time understanding why those opposed to the change are resistant. Perhaps they are scared that they lack the skills required to use the new technology, or that making the change will expose their weaknesses. Understanding these nuances and delivering the appropriate solution will go a long way to combating resistance and turning detractors into supporters.