Have you experienced a recent change success and are thinking: “we need every one of our changes to be like this”? Or perhaps you have recently experienced the opposite and are reflecting on what happened and how to avoid it in the future. The answer in both scenarios is the same: get the organisation understanding that great change outcomes take great change management - driving change success by preparing, equipping and supporting individuals to thrive through change - and that everyone in the organisation has a role to play in this. Once that understanding is in place, as L&D professionals we can ensure the skills, know-how and competency is built to grow and mature organisational change capability.
For the past 20 years I’ve worked in organisational change in industries ranging from higher education, manufacturing to pharmaceuticals, working with individuals from the bottom to the top of those organisations. With that in mind, here are my top three recommendations on which roles play a part in building organisational change capability.
- Supportive and supported leaders
- Engagement on projects and change initiatives
- Educating people managers
1. Supportive and Supported Leaders
Start at the top. Getting a commitment to building change management competence across your organisation is going to take active leadership commitment; you need supportive sponsors. Ask yourself, whose involvement is necessary to ensure the desired outcomes of this move to grow our change maturity is achieved? Who in my leadership cadre seems interested or intrigued about what it’s going to take to make our organisational changes successful? Engage with those leaders.
I am “respectfully tenacious” in taking every opportunity to engage with leaders about the value we get from great change management, how everyone has a role to play in this, and the risks we run and costs we incur with inadequate change management. What I’m doing through this engagement is making the case for organisational change management by appealing to what matters to leaders: success, having an engaged workforce, reducing risk and cutting unnecessary costs.
Research into what works in building change management maturity notes the importance of having active and engaged support of leadership, including obtaining buy-in from senior leadership. It was noted how important it is to provide support for leadership too, in the form of training sessions and seminars specifically developed for them.
Download: Executive Sponsors Importance and Role
2. Engagement on Projects and Change Initiatives
Engaging and applying great change management on key initiatives aids with its wider deployment. The individual project can act as a tangible case study of the positive difference change management can make. Those of us in L&D need to think about change management skills and competence growth for our programme and project managers, scrum masters, etc.
In my experience, it is far from unquestionable that a project manager “gets” the people-side of change. We can support them by signposting and providing dedicated training and coaching interventions which use their subject matter expertise in the technical side of changes as a springboard to bring understanding of the people-side of change.
3. Educating People Managers
Ensuring our middle managers – that amorphous but oh-so important cadre of people – understand their role in making a success of the changes impacting them and their teams is critical. Most of us will have heard the unfortunate adage that no one ever got promoted because they were a great people manager. Perhaps those of us working in the staff development space should challenge this.
One of my customers has tackled this via its modular, manager development programme: each team member promoted or recruited into the manage tiers is required to attend a two-day, highly-interactive workshop focused on what it takes to successfully manage their team through change.
The list of roles who should be involved in building organisational change capability would, of course, go on and on. Change champion networks, hosts of induction programmes for new joiners, HR business partners, super-users of digital changes and third-party suppliers of technology are just some examples of these other roles. I offer my top three as a starting point for the change that is building and maturing organisational change management capability. Would you have a different top three? Has your experience lent itself to an alternative set of priority roles?
At CMC Partnership Global we have been helping our clients with building change capability over many years, so if you would like to know more about how to go about it, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and watch out for future articles on the practical steps you can take to embark on an ECM initiative.