“A Change Is Going To Come, So What About People?”


“A Change Is Going To Come, So What About People?”

Sam Cooke first sung the rousing Spiritual, “A change is going to come” in the early 1960’s, &, change is most certainly a constant in all areas of our lives, so there’s little point in trying to avoid it.

Also there’s little point in schelping off to work to try and avoid it either, because as Kotter & Schlesinger writing in the Harvard Business Review over 30 years ago identified, most companies have to ‘undertake moderate organizational changes at least once a year and major changes every four or five years’.

Now there’s a mighty big shed-full of organizational studies that will tell you in weighty tomes and great technical detail why most change management efforts fail. Perhaps because the primary focus is on the technology of change, the leaders and managers fail to understand the difference between Change, Transition and Transformation, or, the process ignores the whole system (Dr Janet Jackson, 2006).

But a fundamental reason is that often the people affected by the change — your employees — are very simply overlooked, so that their concerns are not even inquired about, let alone addressed. They are not engaged in any meaningful way, but as you’ll know it is their commitment to and the roles they will play in support of the process to manage and deliver the change that will ultimately ensure that it endures and is a success right across the organization.

Whether your starting point is Maslow’s, “Hierarchy of Needs”, or you look to Alderfer,Watson, Thorndyke or any of the many other Behaviourists, there are some fundamental principles and needs which determine how an individual will respond in any given situation: One set of needs is centered around feeling personally safe and having a sense of well-being, &, although there are many reasons why people resist change including, parochial self-interest, misunderstanding & lack of trust, different & conflicting assessments of the situation, &, a low tolerance to it — communication, transparency and being engaged all inspire trust and will actively militate against resistance.

In addition, if they see the change as a manageable challenge they are likely to be better attuned, &, attunement together with a personal bouancy and feeling clear about things are each essential for ensuring responsiveness and resilience in situations with unknown variables and high stress factors.

The real success of any Change Programme will be determined by those people in the Organization who are emotionally engaged and receptive to it and it’s important from the off-set to have a Powerful Engagement Process & Shared Change Purpose to create a sense of ownership, together with Committed Local Sponsors in place who can co-create Strong Personal Connections.

The importance of this cannot be overstated, as research clearly suggests that less than 40% of employees are committed to the new way of working more than nine months after any change has taken place, whilst a further 43% may well have accepted that change has happened but are still not fully engaged.

What does that all mean? Well it certainly doesn’t mean you have the buy-in to wholesale and effective change that stand-alone, ‘on time and within budget’ type metrics might lead you to believe.

Bottom line — it is just as important to have a ‘People Plan’ for change, as it is to have the ‘Organization Change Plan’ worked out and signed off. So just let’s not forget it!


This post was written by Paul Mudd- Speaker, Teacher, Author, Coach, Co-founder of The Mudd Partnership Ltd UK and Father of five. He has over 30 years senior level experience across both the public and private sectors working in the UK and Europe. His mission in life is to make the complex not so complex, the tough stuff not so tough, and the undoable within reach for everybody.


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This post was written by Paul Mudd- Speaker, Teacher, Author, Coach, Co-founder of The Mudd Partnership Ltd UK and Father of five. He has over 30 years senior level experience across both the public and private sectors working in the UK and Europe. His mission in life is to make the complex not so complex, the tough stuff not so tough, and the undoable within reach for everybody.

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