Eight tips for Managing Change

September 28, 2007 at 8:30 am 1 comment

In many ways, we talk about Change Management just like we talk about the weather. There’s a lot of moaning and groaning about it, but not much in the way of actually doing anything to make it better. It’s as if we’ve given up, and are willing to accept the notion that Change is overwhelmingly difficult. That’s a pity, because the problem of Change Management is as susceptible to rational thought, methodical analysis and problem solving techniques as is any other problem.What holds us back from applying our considerable intelligence to the issue of Managing Change, is that we’ve fallen prey to a flock of myths regarding the Change process. Ironically, these myths fly in the face of what we know personally to be true about how we as individuals react and cope with Change… but we ignore what we know and apply these myths to the behaviours we see around us. The result? A whole lot of fuzzy thinking regarding this very human activity of ‘Responding to Change’

1. People Resist Change.
Sorry, but no they don’t. People continually seek out drastic changes to their lives and voluntarily embrace them. Proof? Are you married? Have kids? Ever sought a new position? Learned a new language? All of these are huge Changes that we all embrace willingly every day.

2. People do however resist being forced to Change.
This is the key. Understand this, and you’re 90% of the way towards being able to better manage this thing called Change. If I tell YOU that from now on you have to do something differently… then you’ll want to know WHY this Change is necessary before you agree to Change. Here’s a news flash… You’re not that different from everyone else. We ALL need a reason to Change and will rightly resist anyone who tries to force a Change down our throats.

3. Resistance to enforced/mandated/dictated Change is ‘bad’.
This is perhaps, the most destructive belief held by management today. Resistance to forced Change is not only ‘not bad’ – in this age of rapid Change, it’s absolutely vital that we do NOT Change every time someone comes up with a new idea. Instead we should strive to put in place, strong barriers to unnecessary Change which only allow necessary Changes to pass through.

4. Resistance to Change is all about the Fear of Uncertainty.
Not entirely true. Reducing uncertainty about the Future is a central strategy in any Change Management project, but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the only obstacle to Change.

5. Past success is the greatest obstacle to future Change.
This should be obvious, but it isn’t usually taken into account. If you’ve been successful for the past tens years in a particular manner, you should be very wary of anyone suggesting a ‘new’ way of doing things. Would it really make sense to change a winning strategy just ‘because’ someone suggested, without hard proof or evidence, that you should?

6. Getting people to ‘Buy into’ a Change is the problem.
Exactly right, but not in the way most people read that statement. ‘Buy in’ suggests that management has defined the Change necessary (ie. the solution) and now are trying to convince, persuade, cajole people into adopting this new direction. Why is this bad strategy? Because management typically makes no effort to describe the problem the proposed Change is supposed to fix. Management is trying to sell a solution to a problem that people are often not even aware of. Is it any wonder people resist?

7. Don’t sell Solutions… define problems instead.
If someone is aware of a problem and then asked what they could do to solve it, then they own the solution and will, if given the chance, go to great lengths to implement it. This is called ‘getting their involvement’. It is the simplest, easiest method by which to make Change happen in your organization. If Change is necessary, let them decide what needs to be done and then get out of their way.

8. How they respond to Change, is also how you respond to Change.
That’s the real secret behind knowing how to manage Change. Do you respond better to being told to Change, or when people ask you to suggest solutions to a real problem? When learning something new… do you perform perfectly from the start? Or is there an inevitable learning curve… where you make lots of mistakes at first, and get better as time goes on? When placed into a new position, with lots to learn… are you filled with self confidence? Or is there a little voice in your head that has you wondering if you’ll ever regain your normal level of competency?

To better Manage Change in your organization, first look within. You’ll be surprised at the answers you’ll find.


Entry filed under: Change, Change Management, Future, Leaders, Leadership, Management, Managing, Problem Solving, Project Management.

The Lies of Change Expanding Cogito Ergo Sum

1 Comment Add your own

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