Understanding that change management is essential for success


Changing a company’s project management architecture can mean a very personal change to the way people work, says William Buist,founder of xTEN Club (www.xtenclub.com) . In short, change can be highly upsetting, disruptive and, when mismanaged, undermine employee morale. The Change Curve, developed from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s model which helped to explain the grieving process, shows how employee performance changes over time as they move through the three stages of change: shock, depression and acceptance.

1. Shock
Even if this stage is short, the initial reaction can cause a temporary loss of productivity. Shock is due to a lack of information and a fear of the new. Clear communication is key to mitigating shock. Reiterating what the actual change is and logically explaining its benefits can ease the adoption process and help people carry on. 

2. Anger/Depression
During this stage, frustrated employees seek out a scapegoat on whom to focus their anger. Common feelings include suspicion, scepticism, apathy, and isolation. 

3. Acceptance
With the acceptance that change is inevitable (and, most critically, that this change is for the best), employees can embrace new opportunities.  

Overall, it is essential that the vision of the ‘business after the change’ is inspiring, clear, motivational and one that others seek to support and drive forwards. Once the vision has been communicated, start the shift by following a phased approach with smaller, well-defined projects that each bring the change closer, and clearer.

 

Finally, appropriately empower your employees to become agents of changing themselves by making them stakeholders in the project and soliciting/integrating employee feedback at every stage of the process. Great businesses know that markets, and the companies in them, evolve continually, and sometimes with a disruptive step change. When everyone knows why changing is an imperative then sustainable profits can abound and costly mistakes will disappear.