Leading Change Management Initiatives
Organizations are, first and foremost, a group of individuals, right?
As individuals, and as well as organizations, we all always want more. More growth, relevance and wealth.
But, what's often missing from organizational change, is an appreciate of, and systems for, changes in what drives all changes in human behaviors, skills and activities.
After all, it's us human beings that must affect any change plans, right? It's us human beings, with our skills, our habits, our behaviors and actions, that successfully, or unsuccessfully, implement change.
What Got Us Here, Won't Get Us There
As the sayings goes: “to get something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done.”
Let's add to this: we must also habitually do new things. Creative, smart and productive things. And we must do these things at high levels.
Because human beings are the drivers and agents of all desired change, it is human beings that must, first and foremost change. Because we are the only genesis and engine of achieving the change we desire.
And, since we are the source of all change, in order to change our results, we must first change the ancestors to all human-sourced change: we must first change our applied skills, our habitual behaviors and the quality, quantity and frequency of our actions.
But before we change our skills, habits or behaviors, there is something else we must first change. And what is that?
Isn't it true that all of our behaviors, habits and skills are a result of our beliefs? And our habitual feelings and emotions?
And this is where, studies show, most organizations fail in their formal change management plans. Specifically, they don't account for the beliefs, perceptions and feelings of the people who must be the organs of their desired change. Most organizations most of the time assume that if they dictate desired change, that the desired behaviors and results changes will flow.
Not so much.
(Here's a great video on the single skill studies show is most important to successful leadership.)
Successful Change Management - Adjust Your People's Beliefs and Mindsets
We always have this one source of leverage to affect change: We all always want more. More success. More recognition. More appreciation. More safety. More growth, etc.
And more equals change.
So, it’s our job to get everyone involved to identify and feel the profound need to change and change in ways that support our organization’s vision.
Here are the most common mistakes in affecting change, followed by how we succeed in affecting change.
(When you're done with this video or article, check out this very popular 5-minute video with 5 Positive Mindset Strategies)
Why Most Change Management Programs Fail
- Change goes against the inherent nature of our brains. A result of evolution over hundreds of thousands of years on the savannah where change meant possible death. This natural characteristic is subconscious. It escapes our conscious awareness.
- Significant behavioral change must be driven by change in our subconscious beliefs. By definition, we aren’t even consciously aware of our subconscious beliefs, much less cognizant of how we can change them.
- Most people view employment as a necessary means to an end (survival) and not as an integral part of to their higher actualization. As such, they are especially concerned with safety (of job) and not with change (which is dangerous to the subconscious).
- Because of numbers 1 through 3, people are loath to change for organizations. Not only is personal change difficult, they inherently don’t see much in it for them. As a result…
- We are rational players and feign change to satisfy our bosses (or we fool ourselves into thinking reading a book or attending a seminar will change us).
- The organization requires too little of those expected to change. The people driving the change believe that holding meetings, providing training and making the argument for change will result in change. It won’t.
- People change. Organizations can’t. In most change management efforts, the core drivers of personal change are never addressed and integrated into the change process. We don’t change because it’s supposedly in the best interest of an amorphous organization. We change to stay congruent with our highest selves (self-identity, purpose, values, etc).
- Initial change efforts are instituted, but ongoing, long-term Systems, Structures and Rituals that facilitate and force change are not set.
- Systems and structures are set up, but they are inadequate, incomplete, short-lived or they aren’t led from the top of the organization.
(My first job out of business school was in Jack Welch’s GE (Capital). Welch provided brilliant examples of Culture, Systems, Structures and Rituals to facilitate and force change).
The Mechanics of Successful Change Management
- All people involved in making organizational change happen must intellectually and emotionally associate highest personal actualization with the beliefs, behaviors, actions and outcomes necessary for organizational actualization, because we only make fundamental changes when we feel we MUST change in order to not violate self-identity, purpose, personal standards, values or virtues.
- The individuals’ and the organization’s mission/purpose and values have not been associated to and synchronized with each other. The individual must intellectually and emotionally see and feel that personal fulfillment and success in life is, in large part, tied to organizational fulfillment and success.
- Training will be impotent if “trainees” have not consciously and unconsciously, intellectually, empirically and emotionally, identified and associated with their core self-identity, purpose, values and virtues AND
- They ha not recognized and both rationally and emotionally felt that their current beliefs, behaviors and actions within the organization actually violate or undermine their global/life self-identity, core values, virtues and purpose SO THAT
- To self-actualize (or at least not be incongruent) they MUST change NOW.
- A clear, available and achievable PATHWAY to congruence and actualization (and non-violation) of trainees’ self-identity, core values, virtues and purpose through identifiable, repeatable beliefs, behaviors and actions—ones that also lead to organizational actualization—has not been identified, clearly articulated and emotionally amplified within the individual.
- The new beliefs, behaviors and actions have not been modeled and practiced in a repeated and systematic manner by trainees AND thereafter reinforced through organizational and individual Systems, Structures and Rituals that support—and even force—adherence.
We Must Create New Change Management Rituals
- Our only power to affect a change in outcomes is when we change behaviors and actions.
- Behaviors and actions change only when we change core beliefs and habitual emotional states.
- We can't force people to change their beliefs and emotions. Only through the process of self-reflection and revelation might we change our beliefs and emotions and, therefore, our behaviors. This is where the organization, and the individual, must be active: The change leaders can and must lead people through the process of personal re-evaluation, with the hopes they have revelations. The organization must lead people to make the association between personal purpose, identity and values and the necessary change that must happen in the organization.
- The new belief, behavior and action change must be practiced repeatedly until it becomes unconsciously applied in a habitual manner. The organization must set up initial training to identify and synchronize individual and organizational beliefs (values, rules, standards, identity) and behaviors. Then...
- Systems, Structures and Rituals that institutionalize the commitment to and process of change must be established, managed and led--actively, consistently and from the CEO down.
There are specific techniques that will increase the probability of true and lasting change. Organizations must commit considerable human resources to designing, implementing and supporting change from the top down, throughout the entire organization over the long-term.
Culture, including values, rules and standards, must be redefined, clarified, passionately adopted and organically institutionalized through training, practice and example.
We all always want more.
What got us here won’t get us there.
To not be insane, per Einstein’s definition, we must change our beliefs, behaviors and actions to get the change we are after.
Here’s to wishing you the greatest success and fulfillment in your change efforts. Both personal and organizational.