Individual change management is a different scenario from the standard social change dynamics that the field usually pertains to. It’s less common to encounter this form of change, because usually changes needed are on a broader basis, and thus are going to inherently be more of a social thing.
However, there do come instances when individual change management is an applicable process. But, people will often overlook this for being what it is, and as a result, they don’t put the effort and consideration into it that would have been ideal.
So, what is individual change? Well, it obviously pertains to a single person being conducted through a change. It’s used quite often in correcting poor performance, or training employees for promotion or change of responsibilities. People just tend to look at it like just a training issue, and not as a change issue as well.
The first thing to factor in is that when it’s individual, some factors that apply to social change aren’t present … others remain, and due to the reduced numbers, they are magnified painfully.
Resistance, for example, must be overcome in an absolute fashion, as percentages of people coming on board to offset opposition isn’t possible. So, you have to absolutely unfreeze the individual from the start.
Also, that human relationship aspect is magnified severely, and a solid, positive one on one rapport between you and the individual is critical. Of course, when it comes to training, it’s an open and shut case of personal tutoring to get that done.
However, the final phase of change, when dealing with just one person, is a bit of a babysitting game, and you’ll have to stay on them, and gently reinforce the change and avoid relapses. It takes a gentle hand to stay on someone like this, without riding them too hard.
Now, the thing to remember is that communication of progress and concerns to stakeholders may be applicable to the situation, and it’s always a good idea to stay on validating changes with established policies and rules in place elsewhere.
Beyond that, the same concerns apply to individual and social change, and the same conundrum of picking a model and following the states of change is still the case. The big difference is the human impact aspect, and the shift of numbers. Percentages and checks and balances are not applicable when dealing with a singular individual, so you have to handle your metrics and scheduling in a way to accommodate this.
You’ll find that trying to use this individual change management concept to do massively parallel change is not practical, so don’t go trying that. But, when individuals need to improve employment, or need training on something new, this kind of approach, in stead of just regarding it as training and performance enhancement, is probably a good philosophy to adopt. Just, be wary of how much more sensitive the human element is in this, because it’s the hurdle magnified the most by the stricter numbers this brings in. Use this wisely, but don’t be afraid to use it when you need to – and you will need to.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.