I repeatedly hear that change is getting more and more complex, more and more frequent and more and more rapid. The constant demands are for better, faster, cheaper, leaner, brighter and more heroic organizations. They must be more efficient, less complex and more dynamic, making more money and producing higher quality output. It’s all about more, more, more! What can organizations do to be ready for the phenomenal amount of change that they are lining up for their future?
My view is that they need to build greater change capacity, to be change ready and change agile. Having the ability to manage many changes concurrently is a challenge – I remember a change register holding over 300 initiatives at one organization – but if you build a dispersed capacity, to support, assist and enable change at all levels, then you will have a ready build network for greater change capacity.
To build this capacity you need to recognize that organizations are best served by a mix of individual involvement. Many employees with varying levels of change responsibility need to be included. I refer to three levels of change agent activism:
- Level 1 are your full time change related roles. People employed as change managers, project leads, project managers and some of the business analysts.
- Level 2 are your “some of the time” change people. These people do change as part of their job, either because they support the roles of full time change agents (think BA and Project support) or because their role has some level of responsibility to deliver communications, learning events or manage people going through changes regularly.
- Level 3 are your “arms-length” change people. People who experience some level of change but this is not a fundamental part of their role and not something they are allocated time and resourcing to do. Yet often they are the front line or managers of front line staff who are going through the change event whether it be office relocation, policy and process change or the new HR technology being introduced.
It is the level 2 and 3 people that need to be supported and unfortunately are often neglected. Many times over I have seen an organization put effort into tier 1 people and the tier 1 people are then expected to do everything and the next levels are not involved until they are “told what is happening” or “instructed to comply”. And we wonder why so many people get resistant and change fatigue? Its not the level of change it’s the way they are supported to deal with it and hence the organization as a whole.
I recommend, encourage and advocate for more organizations to build in wider change programs for those employees in the second and third levels of exposure. The numbers are far greater, but the impact is equally greater. If you increase the knowledge base at this level, you increase the knowledge across the organization and produce a far more change capable organization.
Rich Batchelor – President