Change management in organisations

GIVEN what Zimbabwe is currently going through organisational change management skills is needed more now than any time before. The question is: do our leaders both in government, parastatals and other business entities possess the required organisational change management skills? Or simply put, can they manage change?

People Management Issues Robert Mandeya

While some are aware of the need to manage change, a lot others could be in the dark as to how to go about this process and therefore are overtaken by events. In some cases it could be sheer arrogance or downright ignorance of the need to manage change.

As I was going through the Prosci Change Management training on the Webinar, one question struck me: how often do complexities overpower the core of what you are aiming to accomplish? In the Prosci discipline of leading change, one of the key roles of the approach is to bring clarity and simplicity to the messy complexities of people and organisations during change. From my experience with the Prosci tools lately, it came across to me that there is intentional focus on the core of the individual role in change.

The Prosci Adkar Model describes the five sequential outcomes we need to build so as to successfully realise a new behaviour or outcome. The power of the Adkar Model is in its simplicity. The model in fact engages participants with practical tactics for applying the simple concepts of Adkar to drive change results within the complexity of the real-world business environment.

Adkar is an abbreviation for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement.

There are so many ways of applying this model depending on your situation, context or environment.

One very critical component of this model is its focus on the individual change. It is an individual change model to help individuals come up with creative new thinking which will help them to cope with the change process within one’s work process or entire organisational process.

The Adkar model framework comprises five advanced applications, namely, common language, outcome orientation, timing guidance, measurement and coaching frameworks. The framework is based on the understanding that “the secret to success change lies beyond the visible and busy activities that surround change. Successful change, at its core, is rooted in something much simpler: how to facilitate change with one person”.

This assertion is further buttressed by Vince Lombardi, who posits that: “The achievements of an organisation are the results of combined effort of each individual.”

The reality of this school of thought is that if you are trying to influence societal, individual or organisational change, you should realise that the unit of that broader process is the individual. There is that need to understand how people experience change and also how they respond to change. How can leadership influence change at individual level?

The Adkar model represents the five outcomes of individual change: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. These are the five milestones someone needs to go through in order to be able to manage this transition from the current to the future state of being.

Why is change necessary?

Naturally, change begins with understanding why, what is the nature of change? Why is the change needed? And what is the risk of not changing?

Change also involves a personal decision. We always ask such questions as “what is in it for me?” It is always a personal choice which prompts an individual to either engage or participate in the processes of change.

Those with children at home, you probably are aware of the questions children normally ask if you instruct them to do something — why? It is not only in the nature of children to ask “why”, but it is human nature to seek understanding or reason behind certain decisions. But it is important for leaders to know that, with new thinking comes new possibilities.

Importance of knowledge in change

It is also imperative that change requires knowledge. People need to know how to change and this involves training of the people on how to change by providing them with the necessary tools and skills on how to engage with the process of change. Training provides the opportunity to learn new skills, behaviours and how to operate new machines and so on.

However, there is a danger with trying to plunge people in training of new things without first creating awareness and desire of the need to change. People need to believe and buy in on the need to change.

Awareness would also help reduce resistance to change. Naturally, change is unsettling to most people as they get so entrapped and comfortable with the status quo. But it important for leaders to know that, with new thinking comes new possibilities.

The knowledge people acquire through training needs to be accompanied by the ability to perform. There is often confusion between knowledge and ability. Some people use these terms interchangeably but these two are completely different.

Ability is more to do with the action on the ground. It is the practical application of knowledge. Change requires action in the right direction.

Ability is a demonstrated capability to implement the desired change in performance or behaviour. Sometimes, there is a gap between knowledge and ability, and this could be addressed through coaching and training.

Lastly, change must be reinforced and sustained through actions that will ensure the change is continual. This re-inforcement could come in the form of recognition and rewards that sustain the change.

People have a tendency of reverting to old ways of doing things if management does not commit to reinforcing the new behaviour. We always find comfort in things we are used to doing. As the saying goes, old habits die hard.

Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development with the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. The views contained herein are personal views. — mandeyarobert@gmail.com