I recently wrote the SHRM-SCP exam and in preparing for it, one thing that really hit home for me was the critical role that HR can – and should – play when it comes to organizational change. According to SHRM, HR has a dual role: (1) leading the change and (2) serving as a facilitator for changes that other leaders and departments initiated. So, needless to say, growing our knowledge, skills, and abilities in change management will not be a wasted effort!
In this vein, Halogen was thrilled to have Margo Purcell, President of Open to Possibilities and the creator of a development model called TeamScaping™ that helps leaders and their teams manage change from the ground up, recently presented as a webinar. I thought it might be helpful to continue our conversation with Margo by asking some of most pressing questions we received from our webinar audience.
The modern pace of business is fast and ever-changing. With so many things shifting all the time, how do we keep people consistently motivated?
In our experience we've seen that a big reason for the lack of motivation with ongoing change is two-fold. First, often in situations of ongoing change there’s a perceived “no end in sight” which can be exhausting for people. The second reason has to do with not fully communicating the "why" for the changes. Clearly communicating and giving the long-term view of how things all fit together can help with motivation.
I would also offer that starting a conversation to explore the direct value of the change goes a long way for employees to find the internal motivation to work through such transitions. If the employee does not benefit (or does not perceive a benefit) from the change, there is utility in acknowledging that openly and truly hearing and appreciating their perspective. Such a conversation opens up roads to share the ways in which the change can bring value to other parts of the organization, which can help employees having a hard time with change acknowledge its value and support it.
Do you have any suggestions to convince people to think outside the “we’ve always done it that way” box?
This can be a tough one. Some people seem to be more resistant to change and will inevitably fall on language like that at some point. They tend to have a more reflective nature and see “change for change's sake” as an inefficient and ineffective use of time and energy. Harnessing that reflective and analytical nature can be of great benefit to an organization especially in times of change - they will often consider the options more slowly and methodically to ensure any change that is made is done once and done correctly.
Acknowledge the strengths of their style and perspective and ask them to bring those to the group. This can be particularly useful when exploring alternative ways of doing things, and can help them open up to different approaches.
You can also use some of the magic questions such as "I appreciate that the way we've been doing things has worked. If we were to do it another way, how might we do it?" or "If we found ourselves unable to continue doing it this way, we were forced to do it another way, what options might we have? What would you suggest?"
How do you deal with an employee who is involved and seems to be okay with a change but insists on using old processes to maintain the new system?
It's important to meet an employee where they are and try to get a true understanding of why they are holding onto the old process. Enter the conversation with true curiosity and a genuine desire to understand, offering observations rather than judgements. You might say something like, "It has been a while since we implemented this new system. In observing your work with the new system, I notice you are using our old process and I am keen to understand the reasons behind that." Then asking them what they appreciate about the old process, what is good about it?
Once you've heard their piece, dig a little deeper. "What, if anything, is preventing you from using the new process? What, if anything are you uncomfortable with?" Listen some more, reflect back on what you've heard and get their confirmation by asking "Have I fully understood your perspective? Have I got it right?"
Through this conversation you might uncover a problem with the new system you weren't aware of and that employees were not bringing forward. Asking open questions will help uncover that type of thing. Then, move into solution generation mode together - "Staying with the old process is not an option that can continue going forward. What do you need to move to the new process? What can we do to support you?"
If change initiatives fail 70% of the time, what we can do to model the 30% of successful initiatives?
Project lookbacks are really helpful for this. Do an open exploration of the successful projects to uncover what went right, what we did when things were going wrong to get us back on track and what strengths we used to realize our picture of success. We often focus on the ones that went wrong in the name of avoiding repetition. Doing the lookback on a successful initiative helps capture the things that went well, recognize where we had challenges and discover how we overcame them.
Watch Margo’s full webinar
There’s a lot more to be learned about how to lead change with a “from the ground up” strategy. To get an even deeper look at this change management strategy, watch Margo Purcell’s webinar here, or at the link below.