I want to talk about change management.
Now hold on - don’t hit snooze and don’t close your browser, give me a second here.
I’m not here to talk about how an organization can lead impactful, successful change management efforts. I’m not here to expound on the virtue of ensuring that the people impacted by a change buy into it only if they understand what's in it for them. I’m not advocating for Executive Sponsors and Champions to lead efforts or how to overcome the naysayers, etcetera, etcetera.
I want to talk about the people on the other side of change: the people impacted by it.
Let’s talk about us - and I do mean us - because I’m on that side of the fence regularly. I may implement and consult on large technology projects and support change management as part of my day job, but just like you, I'm on the other side of change all the time.
Making Change When Change is Hard
We made a change recently to switch our Project Management Software at HireVue.
There was a team that worked together to assess requirements, and everyone who would use the software was involved. We provided feedback up front, and explained what we needed to be successful. Once the decision was made, future users were invited to regular sessions for Q&A, then for training, and then for follow up. The project was very well run (which is a huge help when getting team buy in).
The thing I remember most about this project, however, was an offline conversation with the Project Leader. She mentioned to me that she was concerned I might not be on board with the switch.
I was shocked, but she explained that she knew that I used many different Project Management software tools in the past. She believed I might already have opinions about what would and wouldn’t work, which software was good, and what might be junk.
Her hand were already full with the implentation, but she was ready to persuade me and win me over as a champion. Thank heavens I was a beacon of shining light (possibly a mild exaggeration) and didn't make things more difficult for her.
How You Can Help Manage Change
I did have doubts and concerns, but it wasn’t all about me. I had responsibilities to her and the rest of the team. So do you. Let’s talk about them.
1) Filter Your First Impressions
Sometimes it feels like my primary responsibility is biting my tongue because I do not want to think about one more thing in my day. So, I just keep my mouth shut when someone is sharing the initial plan for change and the value of the plan to the organization, to me and all my impacted teammates. Sometimes not talking is your primary responsibility.
2) Open Your Ears
Here’s an obvious one: listen. We have a responsibility to listen, give thoughtful responses, and respect the time and effort put in by the team leading the change. Change initiatives, especially technology initiatives, are not typically thrown at an organization without careful planning, a deep understanding of the impacts, and the expected positive outcomes of implementing the change.
3) Temper Your Responses
We have an obligation to temper our responses, especially if you’re asked for your thoughts in a group setting. It's one thing to chat with your boss in a 1:1 and tell him you’re not on the same page. Maybe you want to have a deeper talk or you're worried it might impact your job. That conversation is ok, but not in the group.
4) Be Open-Minded
In the group, we have a responsibility to be open minded and ask questions from a positive perspective. We can say, “Wow, this feels like it’s going to give me back 3 hours every day. What will I be expected to do with the extra three hours and how will that time positively impact the organization?” We do not get to say “Wow, it feels like it’s going to give us a bunch of time back in the day. Is the plan to reduce our headcount by 4 people?”
5) Commit to Direction and Change
One of the core values here at HireVue is “Disagree, but Commit”. So, it’s ok when I have my 1:1 with my manager to express my dissatisfaction, to ask the questions from a little bit different perspective, and to let any insecurities show. At the end of that conversation, though, I have to commit to direction and change.
Now I feel like I know what you’re thinking here: What if I just can’t commit to the change and be a beacon of light for the rest of my peers and organization? That topic is for the next blog - stay tuned.
A Small Addendum... (Tip #6)
Here’s a funny little addendum about effectively supporting change in a positive manner.
Just a day or so after publishing this article, I was part of a change management call. We talked about an upcoming change that, while needed, sounded like it would involve a substantial amount of work. It would involve a few late hours if I was going to do it without impacting the customers I support every day.
I asked the right questions in a positive tone. I don't think I sounded like I was complaining. I was trying to do the right thing, and followed all of my own advice.
With one exception. I was totally unaware it was a video call.
My head was bowed, shaking back and forth in what I'm sure looked an awful lot like desperation. The positive language coming from my mouth was completely betrayed by my body language.
So, although this shouldn’t need saying, apparently it does. Watch your body language! Lesson learned.
About the Author:
Michelle Casdorph is a Senior Manager of Strategic Programs at HireVue with over 25 years of experience in Program Management. As Senior Manager of Strategic Programs, she assists large enterprise customers with their deployment of HireVue, helping them identify, target, and meet key business objectives. Find her on LinkedIn.