Driving change begins with creating a change management strategy.
A change management consultant should help us avoid this error.
Process does not bring change. People do.
Process must fit the people.
We falsely think a specific process will work for any group.
Change Management Strategy Begins with People
The first step in creating a change management strategy is to look at the people. Culture, people and relationships trump any strategy or process.
It is common though to see change management consultant firms tout their change management process. It is also common to see change reduced to a project management effort. Both at best only pay lip service to people.
Assessing Culture, Politics, Relationships and Personalities
Assessing the firm’s people is one of the key principles of change management. It is one of the key change management activities change leadership can do.
This will not only help the planned change. It serves a risk management task too. Change, especially strategic change, brings risk with it.
There are four broad levels we assess:
- Entire firm’s culture
- Internal politics and cliques
- Key relationships
- Key personalities
We assess along a spectrum. At one end is support for the status quo. At the other end is support for change. In whole, we can call this change readiness.
When assessing people’s change readiness, the key is to dive as deep into the trees as we can handle. It is normal for us to generalize too much.
That means we need to look at the groups within the culture. These are the teams, departments and divisions. It is also the office politics and cliques.
The next level is relationships. The key ones are those of leaders and managers. Some of the best change leaders are not managers though.
Finally, we look at key personalities. By nature, some are more open to change. Of the Big Five personality traits, for example, Openness correlates to this.
In this way, we get the lay of the land. Not doing this creates problems. It is like farming without looking at what soil we have.
People not process are the secret to change management. A change management strategy begins with people. We then find the best change management process to fit them.