This is part 2 of the 4 blog series by Bob Black on Change Management, Implement Change Across Complexities
In Part 1, I finished by suggesting that Front-end Loading is a key factor in effective organisational change, the change team has more time than they thought to create effective planning of change, it was highly likely there would be a gap between senior management expectations for change delivery and the practicalities faced by the change team in the practical delivery challenges and lastly be really, really careful about the composition of the change team members.
So, what were our next steps?
Due to the complexity of the work involved with this change, a significant amount of time, well spent as it turned out, was spent discussing senior management expectations for the change, risks and issues associated with the change and smooth running of the business operations, the likely impacts of the change on the various populations and individuals and it was agreed that scope should be closely monitored for creep both emotional and practical.
I was surprised as were the senior management team during our discussions. The surprise on my part was the senior management's lack of understanding of the impact that planned change had.
For their part, the resistance to their practical support, understanding of possible impact and reluctance to move ahead with whole-hearted support even though they said they were supportive was more of a shock than surprise. This “passive-aggressive” resistance was also visible in their next two or three reporting managers.
What did we decide on how to manage this situation?
Firstly, as a change team we took some time to acknowledge as a team i.e. observing team confidentiality (this proved to be a significant positive factor for us establishing and sustaining a high-performing team capability) our surprise and frankly disappointment at the level of detailed understanding of the change impact shown by the senior management team. This varied from individual to individual, however the aggregate mood was one of “support” in principle but significantly less than this when the implications of the change to their specific operations was explained to them.
NOTE: As a Top Tip, when you are starting or having some “unexpected challenges” with a change programme, take some time to reflect on where the assumptions/expectations are with the key stakeholders and the change team. You may be surprised how a potential gap/barrier to understanding has opened up. One of the reasons for this can be senior management expectations for “speed of change delivery” and consequent operational improvements versus the practicalities experienced by the change team.
For example, in my case study, who would have thought the senior management team were almost all “passive-aggressive” towards the planned change?
A second Top Tip is when you are having discussions with the sponsor(s), senior management or those that are affected by the change there is a tendency to have an off-balance conversation based on pressure/stress on the parties and personal traits regarding the importance of “getting your point(s) across. Most times it’s more effective to listen more rather than talking.
More to follow in Part 3……