The Why the When the What of Change

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Garry is responsible for working with clients to identify, design and deliver bespoke development programmes, tailored to meet both their business and commercial requirements. He also delivers EEF’s open training programmes. He draws upon current research and study in Human Resource Development combined with a pragmatic and practical approach to allow easy application in the workplace.  Garry has worked with companies of all sizes from SME’s to larger blue chip organisations. He is a featured monthly writer in Training Journal and also a writer for TrainingZone. Garry is a frequent guest speaker at conferences and exhibitions. He has a Master’s Degree in Management Education, Training & Development, a diploma in Training Management, Certificate in Training Practise and is qualified to conduct psychometric testing to Level 2.

By understanding the ‘Why’, ‘When’ and ‘What’ we can do to manage change, then it is possible to ensure that your people remain engaged, focused and positive when it comes to changes to their environment and practices.

The Why.

In the 1970’s Kübler-Ross proposed a psychological process by which humans respond to change known as the DREC cycle.  The DREC cycle is a four stage process of change and gives a clear breakdown of the path an individual can go through in order to adopt new patterns of behaviour or working practices.

The first reaction to major change is Denial. ‘It can’t be.’ ‘They must be joking!’ ‘That might work down South, but not here.’ Whether the latest plans impact on an individual for better or worse do not expect them to like it. During the Denial stage it is important to explain why the change has to be introduced, remain rational and don’t take the rejection personally. Always try to brief collectively at this point so everyone receives the same message. The next stage is Resistance. The important thing at this stage is to listen to the arguments, no matter how obtuse and where fair points are made respond to and introduce changes into your own plans. It is also essential at this stage to outline and emphasise the plans for the introduction. Don’t waste any time on training at this point as it will not be retained.  It needs energy to sustain this kind of resentment and resistance to change and with persistence it will start to erode, at this point we enter the Exploration phase. Essentially what people are now looking for is the ‘What’s In It For Me’ factor. Recognising that the change is inevitable the individual searches for what part they can play and how they can work with the new system. Training comes to the fore here. Finally we enter Commitment, now the new way becomes the old way and the 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.  In some organisations I have worked with the final process of reviewing and reflecting on the mistakes made is skipped over. The result is that the organisation fails to learn from its errors and worse than this people never develop a feeling of having completed and finished the change process.CHANGEGRAPH_0

The When.

The more complex and involved the change, the greater the likelihood that you should implement a Human Factors Change Management Plan – or “People Plan”.  Probably one of the simplest and easiest ways of determining if we need to consider the people issues is to pose five questions around the change process.

  1. Is there ownership of the process or system by the individuals?
  2. Was the process or system developed or refined by the individuals?
  3. Do the individuals have a mid to long term involvement with the process or system?
  4. From the individual's perspective is the process or system satisfactory?
  5. Has a previous attempt to change the process or system failed?

When the answer to only one of these questions is “Yes” then it will be necessary to devise and implement some sort of People Plan to run alongside if not ahead of any technical plans to introduce the change. If the answer to more than one of these questions is “Yes” then the effort and focus necessary to achieve commitment to the change is likely to be significantly higher.  3 “Yes’s” or more and the individuals concerned will require a concerted, planned and strategically thought through process to get them on board with the change and committed to the new processes. 

The ‘What’.

Now we’ve considered the need to develop a People Plan to get individuals on board with the change process we need to determine the possible actions that could be taken to aid individuals through the DREC cycle. Before deciding on a course of action it is worth considering the options which may be utilised, by identifying which actions might yield the greatest impact in context of your people and engage them in the change process. Then by creating a people plan we start the process of change with greater confidence of success.

EEF Training offer a range of training and personal development courses for managers who want to understand workplace dynamics and what makes their workforce tick. We can also facilitate events to help your change process or provide independent and objective analysis of your planning.  No matter whether you are an experienced manager or someone moving into the role for the first time, our training courses will equip you with the skills and knowledge you require to motivate and support your staff.

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Training and Development Specialist

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