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We Talk About Change Management, but What Does it Really Mean?

 

As I deliver so many motivational keynotes on Change Management, a question I am frequently asked is “What does change management really mean?” It is not so naïve a question. There are many meanings and many answers. For example, to a company undergoing a merger, change management to the CFO is often not the same thing as it is to the CIO or to the Vice President of Manufacturing.

Bart Perkins, writing for CIO’s online magazine (April 12, 2018) had several observations important to share on the topic of defining change management.

His observations about those in IT can apply to most any employee in any department:

“Many people view their value to the organization as being a good technical architect, programmer, or security specialist. When asked to take on a different role, they may become very uncomfortable…once they are no longer rewarded for the skills that made them successful, employees may question their purpose.”

If you would like, think of a marketing manager, quality assurance specialist or an accountant having to take on new roles and working with new people. When they are forced to leave their comfort zones, what will happen to the role they worked so hard to establish?

Another observation Perkins made on change management was, “Individuals must be willing to examine new information and adopt new behaviors and approaches. Since most people prefer the status quo, this can be difficult.”

Inertia

What is it about change management that is such a difficult process? As an inspirational speaker on the topic, I think I can sum it up in one word: inertia.

Many organizations undergoing a transformation quickly discover that prior to making changes, their employees are locked into a cycle of indifference, disengagement and fear. The fear, incidentally, often stems from an understanding that if employees were previously motivated to make changes at their initiative, they were often penalized for doing so. They may not have started out that way, they may have at one time been eager to make a difference, but over time they felt their initial motivation to contribute and participate was futile.

Change management, in all of its phases, requires employees to re-ignite and re-energize their vision. It is not so easy a task. In fact, it is a two-way street.

Overcoming inertia requires determination not only from individual employees but from the corporate or organizational entity itself. The organization that is undergoing change or has undergone change must reach out to their most valuable asset, their employees, to help. The employees must know that they are the difference; they are the change agents.

Neither is change management solely about organizational charts or the implementation of new technologies. It is personal. This personal investment does not happen by accident; it takes an individual vision on the part of the employee, the determination to make that vision happen, and the grit to work at it every day.

Overcoming inertia is the opposite of settling for so-so; it is the mindset of never being content with “good enough.” I know from both personal and business experience that there will be days when the change that is required will be difficult. I also know that overcoming inertia and never settling for apathy causes people and their organizations to soar. That is the true essence of where change management can take us.

 

Contact Scott Burrows, Inspirational Keynote Speaker on Change Management today, through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169