We are living in a world where everything changes, all the time, and those organizations who are content with who and where they are will eventually be left behind by those around them. This does not only mean that we need to be open-minded and ready for never-ending development processes, but also that we should embrace the fact that change is inevitable and that we will always be “students” in life. Below are 10 principles for change management that can be used as a framework during change processes.
1. Experience is the best teacher.
The Roman philosopher Cicero said it, “usus magister est optimus” – “experience is the best teacher”. Although knowledge is easily gained by reading about something or by listening to someone who’s sharing their “story”, it’s a fact that some, or most, things are best learned from the lessons of life and by practical experience rather than from books or a “classroom”. We, as individuals, learn best by doing things ourselves.
2. People don’t resist change, but they do resist loss.
By acknowledging these two fundamentally different things, you’ll realize that by simply include your employees in the “change”-process – the process of further development – you’ll most likely notice a significantly more positive attitude towards change. Create “ownership” amongst the ones affected by the change.
3. Change doesn’t come from the outside, it begins from within.
You can’t make someone else change, it’s not possible. What you can do as a leader though, is to embrace the great possibility to act as a change catalyst for your employees. By your actions and words you can inspire, motivate and empower your employees to want and actively participate in “change”.
4. It is in the ordinary the extraordinary can be found.
This may sound like a cliché but it is in fact true. Development and growth doesn’t necessarily need to come from something new as the result you want just as well might exist in some part, or all, of what you’ve already got. In other words, by analyzing “what already is”, you might find that you can achieve the desired outcome with simple means and minimal effort.
5. Learning from failure.
In order to be able to improve something, we need to change something. However, as we all know there is no guarantee that our efforts to change will be successful – we might fail. And failure is a natural part of life and of growth. Some might even say that if we are not failing once in a while, then we aren’t trying hard enough. Failure is an excellent opportunity to grow, both professionally and personally. If we are open to see it, we can learn so much more from failure and how we get from “there” to where we intended, than we possibly could learn from instant success.
6. Be specific about what you want and why you want it.
No development process should be started until there’s a clear goal – it’s doomed to fail. If you don’t know what you want and why you want it, you will not get it. It’s that simple.
7. Change is a process.
When people are faced with a development process – a change – they pass through five different stages. These stages are, in order, the precontemplation stage, the contemplative stage, the determination stage, the action stage and finally the maintenance stage. By acknowledging and knowing theses stages, what they mean and how they affect people, you will have the knowledge of what your employees are “going through”. By that, you’ll be well equipped to work with the process and not (unintentionally) work against it.
8. You can’t please everyone.
As with everything else in life, there are no guarantees that everyone affected by the change will be pleased with the result. However, as a leader it is your responsibility to keep that which is best for the organization as a whole as your main focus.
9. Change requires action.
We often talk about the changes we should or want to do. But no change happens until we actually put our words into action. Walk the talk. Do it!
10. A specific process of change is never “ready” or done”.
Performed changes are never completely “done”. As with everything else, even a well performed change requires evaluation, regular re-evaluation and improvements.
What’s your experience of change (management)? What other important principles do you think there are, that we need to take into consideration?