“The only constant in life is change” - Heraclitus
We all face changes every day – whether it is a simple change in the weather, our schedule, or the expected change of seasons. Change affects us all and we each deal with change differently. This is the only constant in life, the only thing we can be sure will happen.
One constant since the beginning of time is change, however, the fear of change is also a constant. Since time immemorial, humans have liked routine. It makes us feel in control of our lives.
In today’s disruptive business landscape, change-capability, the ability to successfully implement planned change, has become imperative to survival.
At its core, change leadership is working together to create a shared understanding of change required to execute the strategy, and how best to make it happen. But change-management research has demonstrated time after time that organizational change initiatives fail more often than they succeed, despite the resources put into creating change management processes.
One thing is for sure - the future requires a different way of leading, one that enables others to be more agile and responsive rather than manage others. This is the kind of thinking that makes you a change enabler rather than just a change manager.
"Change" can be broken down into three parts:
Content - The type of change
Context - Forces or conditions in an organization’s external and internal environments
Process - The implementation of the organizational change
Change enablers are also broken down into these three parts and possess specific traits –
1. Content enabler:-
Perceived Gap: refers to the realization and acknowledgement of either an existing weakness or existing deficiency within the organization. This provides a sound reason for change.
Desired State: refers to the articulation of an ideal and dignifying future state. This helps people envision exciting future possibilities and broaden their perspectives on the purpose and benefits of the change.
Consistency of Change Message: refers to maintaining a consistent message throughout the change process. This means ensuring that the change team speaks with “one voice” and uses the “same language” as well as establishing an unchanging core that people can hold on to for psychological safety during the process.
2. Context enabler:-
Addressing Emotional Responses: involves acknowledging and respecting individuals’ emotional responses to change by allowing them time to disengage from and grieve the loss of the present state.
Building Trust and Credibility: involves establishing credibility by practicing what is being preached and cultivating an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. For change teams, this means role modelling behaviors and communicating honestly and consistently.
Transformational Change Agent: refers to earning the commitment and support from senior management to the change as well as cultivating passionate advocates who understand and drive the change.
3. Process enabler:-
Communicating Change with Your Team: involves honestly communicating both what will and what will not change as well as clarifying expectations of the change. An open, two-way communication channel should also be available throughout the process for individuals to share ideas and learn from the successes of others.
Involving and Engaging Your Team: refers to identifying change recipients and involving them throughout the change process. This also means encouraging good participation from an early stage
Monitoring Change Initiatives: involves actively seeking to move the change project forward. This includes establishing key milestones as well as providing regular feedback and updates regarding the progress.
The presence of a strong and capable change enabler is of utmost importance during the change process. In their definition, a capable change enabler possesses characteristics that closely resemble the four elements of transformational leadership: Intellectual Stimulation (challenging followers to be innovative and creative), Inspirational Motivation (being able to inspire and motivate followers), Individualized Consideration (demonstrating genuine concern for the needs and feelings of followers), and Idealized Influence.
“When you are finished changing, you are finished”. - Benjamin Franklin