A very basic question I hear sometimes is ‘what really is the importance of change management’?
The importance of change management should be obvious, I would think, but then, ‘obvious is in the eye of the beholder’. So, let’s take a moment to think about the all aspects of change in an organization – the obstacles, the challenges, the benefits, the consequences and the pitfalls – as well as the strategies and skills necessary to overcome these issues.
An organization is a machine; it is a system comprised of many individual parts, filling many different roles that work together to create a sum result. By following a series of interconnected rules, regulations and philosophies this machine can be optimized.
Larger organizations, of course, have more components, and thus, more ambiguity between individual roles and the sum results. Nonetheless, when dealing with a system, and effecting change within it, you must deal directly with the smallest components first – and that applies when talking about people at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy.
People are not transistors, capacitors, cogs or wheels; they are life forms with free will, with opinions, aspirations and apprehensions. People are creatures of habit, and as such, they tend to want to adopt comfort zones, and become set in their ways, especially over time and with accumulated experience. When “the way things are” is threatened by change, it results in 2 main outcomes: either wariness but willingness to go through with it, or an outright rejection; a slap to their face and an affront to their sensibilities.
One of the critical skills of a change management professional is knowing how to deal with this human element. It is important to know how to explain the changes and their purposes to all; to guide the nervous willing individuals with confidence and to win over the detractors by selling them on the benefits of being willing to step outside their comfort zones. With sensitivity to staff, and this special negotiation and arbitration skill, change management is as good as done.
Along with this, you need a good strategist who understands how to apply the order and magnitude of change to business. A good strategy meets deadlines while not overwhelming and stalling the great machine. An organization can seldom afford to stop in its tracks and twiddle its thumbs while reorganization or modification of procedures occurs. Without a skilled change management professional to balance this, the whole thing can come crashing down.
So, the importance of change management in an organization is pretty obvious – it’s a delicate human element within a functioning machine. It is a business comprised of feeling, thinking individuals. We owe a lot to change management professionals who have undergone this process successfully. If you follow these tips, you could be one of them.
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.