Change management is something that we talk about a lot. This is often in the context of people’s difficulty in being capable of changing! Funny that…we reason that people are used to doing something a certain way and, therefore, would find it challenging to do that action in a different way. This is particularly relevant when considering a change to a business process that is strategically designed to improve efficiency or productivity.
Most of the time, we seem to focus on others inability to change without considering our own ability to change. By making it personal, you can discover a wealth of insights that can support improved change management practices in organisations – largely by humanising the whole concept again.
I was recently faced with this when we needed to change premises. I was suddenly confronted with a lot of issues regarding whether it was a good decision or not, despite it having been rationalised and proved to be the most appropriate action to take. However, that did not stop my mind from working backwards and forwards, thinking about all the aspects of why we should not change – the work environment, location, convenience. This emotional attachment was quite confronting and produced a lot of to-ing and fro-ing.
I used the experience as an opportunity to analyse what was going on and what that might mean at the most personal level when it comes to change management. I realised my response was an emotional attachment to an old paradigm. It was actually quite scary as to just how much it had taken hold and how I had started to rationalise all the reasons we should not change.
These emotional attachments are probably a very strong component of why some people don’t seemingly want to change. They can create an inability to step back and see the broader picture, or prevent new emotional attachments from forming regarding all the positives around the change…such as why it is relevant or beneficial. However, they are a very real part of our daily lives and recognising their role can assist in helping people to transition from one situation to another, or one process to another. It is something that, perhaps, we only become aware of when we have confronted it ourselves. When we do, it has the potential to enable greater empathy for those we are working with who may be struggling with change.
Rather than overlook or trivialise these very real emotional responses, effective change management first understands that people are at the heart of the process and their emotional attachments are real and legitimate. Then change management can work from a base of respect.