People planning for change managers

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Make sure you don’t neglect the personal process of change. Here’s a straight forward approach to keep in mind when putting together your own change management plans.

I often see organisational plans and strategies that focus on the technical systems and processes of change, mistakenly presuming the human component will trail on naturally after. To avoid the same happening to you, take the opportunity to ‘get personal’ with this four step process.

Four steps to change

The DREC cycle explains a four step process an individual can go through in order to adopt new patterns of behaviour or working practices. For any manager wishing to embed change in the workplace, it is essential to be aware of these stages and develop an action plan to work with them.

1. Denial

At this first stage, try to explain why change has to be introduced, remain rational and don’t take any rejection personally. Always try to brief collectively at this point so everyone receives the same message.

2. Resistance

It’s important here you listen to all arguments. Where fair points are made, respond to and accommodate changes. You should also outline and emphasise plans for the introduction, including the likely timetable. Don’t waste any time on training now as it will not be retained. Where there’s strong resistance, try to work with individuals - listening to their personal issues and recognising any genuine points raised.

3. Exploration

At this point, people tend to be seeking the ‘What’s In It For Me’ factor. Recognising that change is inevitable, the individual searches for what part they can play and how they can work with the new system. Training can play an important part here.

4. Commitment

Now the new way becomes the old way and individuals reach their preferred state of equilibrium. It’s a good idea to celebrate success or recognise the distance people have travelled at this point. If you skip over this final review process, your organisation can fail to learn from its errors. Change is now constant in most organisations and the review helps give people closure – allowing them to move onto the next activity energised and ready, rather than fatigued.

Lost in translation

The DREC cycle becomes accentuated when it is not considered by the various levels of management. When an initiative is driven from top to bottom, the strategic level of management does not necessarily consider how to frame and manage the introduction of the change to tactical level management. It is frequently done in a casual and less than professional way.

The result is poor reception and then even poorer application. The same errors and omissions are then repeated between tactical and operational levels, but the DREC cycle that is experienced is exponentially greater, being longer and deeper as the effect of change becomes greater as it moves down through the business. 

EEF provides specialist advice and support in developing change management action plans.

Author

Training and Development Specialist

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