It feels like change management has never been more front-of-mind than at present.
PMI has released a number of publications on the subject covering everything from change agility to managing complexity. One of our local project management conferences has a track dedicated to the topic within their events next year.
A large percentage of the published content focuses on the criticality of the usual change management suspects including committed sponorship, thorough impact analysis, frequent & transparent communications and addressing WIIFM. When considering a change-friendly culture, attributes such as receptiveness to failure and leaders who “walk the talk” are often mentioned.
However, a key ingredient for a high degree of change resilience which is often omitted is engagement.
It’s all well and good to talk about capturing the hearts and minds of staff with the rationale for the change and how it might benefit them but if those same hearts and minds aren’t vested in their current roles, with their current managers or with your company, you won’t get true buy-in.
This relationship is logical but it is frequently ignored.
Managers issue surveys to quantify employee engagement, review the findings and might even come up with plans to improve scores, but follow-through on these plans stalls as greater priority is usually placed on staffing change initiatives. Ironically, this focus on implementing short-term change robs the organization of the opportunity to improve its change resiliency which in turn impacts the success of all change initiatives.
What does this mean for your change initiative?
The lower the engagement scores for the key stakeholders who will be impacted by the change, the greater the effort required on your team’s part to effective engage them to have a successful change implementation. If the change is likely to be particularly unpleasant, you may wish to focus on improving the overall level of engagement first before implementing the change.
Without engaged employees, failed change (as opposed to change itself) may become the “new normal”!