Managing Change and Uncertainty – setting the context

This is the first in a series of six articles written by Karen Jones and Joanne Spencer, Directors of Infinite You Limited, featuring helpful tools and techniques to assist you and your teams to manage change and uncertainty in your organisation.
 
Change is a constant for many people in the health service. Whether it’s the restructuring of a workforce, the implementation of a new process/system, or even the launch of a new product/way of working, planning and delivering change management to support its successful implementation is crucial.
 
Change isn’t something that just happens – that’s called circumstance or chance! Instead, we approach the management of change as a competency, which is underpinned by defined skills, behaviours, processes and attributes. To enable change to be embedded in a sustainable way so its owned by the people it impacts, a common understanding and approach to the management of change is needed. This should embrace all tiers, roles and responsibilities in an organisation – from front-line operators, leaders, clinicians, managers, trustees and stakeholders alike.
 
There are so many change management books currently on the market, which take chapters to articulate their ‘solution to doing it right’. But it can be far simpler than that. For change to work, you need to focus on the following five elements with your team:
 
1. Prepare
People need to know what is going to happen to them and when, so it’s vital that you take time to prepare a robust change plan which is supported with a clear purpose for the change. Who will be impacted? What are the risks if people don’t engage? Who are the stakeholders and what are their needs? All these elements require detailed preparation so that a clear and compelling case for change is created, which you can use to engage the individuals who are impacted.
 
2. Engage
Placing an intrinsic value on the skills and contribution of the people impacted by the change creates a mindset whereby you want them to understand and shape how the change may happen. Engaging with people in an Adult to Adult1 manner reaffirms they have an active contribution to make and as a result generates personal responsibility.
 
3. Motivate
What’s the motivation for people to change? Does the ‘new’ negate what has gone before? How will the change impact the satisfaction people currently get in doing their job the way they do now? These type of questions need to be addressed in the way the change is managed. It provides an opportunity to identify what people’s motivating factors are and really address people’s concerns. For people to move along the change curve2 they need to know the impact it will have on them and have a desire awakened to make that journey as a choice.
 
4. Support
People need to be supported in their functional roles during change and supported as human beings. Change will have a different meaning and impact for each individual so creating an approach which allows people to voice their fears and be open about the help they need, is a fundamental stage. Communication by email just isn’t enough. It’s about developing a strategy for support, which can touch each and every individual throughout the change.
 
5. Challenge
Change management is only as good as its legacy. When a change ‘go-live’ is reached and many change plans stop – this is just the beginning. It’s here where teams and individuals benefit from support to make the change ‘live’, make refinement where improvement is needed and check the intended benefits have been realised and if they haven’t, agree what needs to happen to address that.
 
 
These elements are our foundations for change and over the next five articles we look forward to sharing more information with you about each of them, together with tools and techniques you can use in your organisation.
 
 
Karen Jones and Joanne Spencer
Directors of Infinite You Limited
www.infiniteyou.co.uk
1 Functional model Transactional Analysis
2 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
 
 
Infinite You Limited specialises in supporting organisations with change management, strategic leadership and people development. Our ethos is clear: We enable organisations to maximise the potential of their people and to make sustainable improvements to individual, team and organisational performance. Since 2007 we have developed a proven track record in embedding cultural change, organisational transformation and people development improvement across all sectors, working with organisations and individuals as they navigate the challenge of transformational change.
 
Additionally, we will also be running two Branch based Change Management Master Classes in February 2016, to take delegates through more detail, so will share more about that with you in the coming months.