August: The 11 best Change Management articles, podcasts, and videos

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August is normally a ‘back to work’-month. We normally return to something we know well. But nothing is normal this year. Actually, we are looking for a new normal. Covid-19 is the biggest disruption, we have seen for many centuries. It has been an instant burning platform, and all people on the planet have gone through a change. Change management seems more important now than ever. The articles below are a testament to that.

This is a collection of my 11 favourite change management articles posted in August 2020. I hope that they serve as a useful resource for you if you share my passion; change management. Check out my history to see the same lists for previous months.

I also want to mention that I have launched a podcast about change. I am so excited. The name is ‘What Monkeys Do‘ and it’s about individual change. In each episode, I am trying to find out what it takes to make a change – and make it stick. If you listen, I will be very interested in your feedback.

If I’ve missed something – and I most definitely have – please note it in the comment section. It will help others to more great content, and it will point me in the directions of content I may not know of yet.

So in no particular order, let’s get started…

ARTICLES:

1. LAURA HUANG. How to (Actually) Change Someone’s Mind.

Laura Huang, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, discusses the art of persuasion. She addresses the issue of changing the mind of someone who disagrees with you.

According to her research, the leaders who were the most successful in overcoming others’ sceptics were those who understood the root cause of the disagreement before trying to persuade.

Hence, the first thing you should do, when trying to win over a detractor, is to understand what is driving the person’s resistance. Depending on the answer, Laura presents three approaches to the situation:

  1. The Cognitive Conversation: If the detractor is opposed to your argument due to an objective reason, you can win him or her over with logic arguments and objective information. Setting aside emotions is essential to this approach.
  2. The Champion Conversation: If your detractor’s resistance is rooted in a feeling of being neglected, you should persuade him or her by engaging personally in them and their viewpoints. In doing so, they feel that their opinion is more valued.
  3. The credible Colleague Approach: If the detractor’s personal beliefs create a fundamental resistance to your proposal, you can try to persuade the person by bringing in an external supporter. This forces the detractor to disentangle your person from your arguments and evaluate the proposal on its objective merits.

The article reminds me of the three levels of resistance, as described by Rick Mauer. What I like about is that it nuances the conversation much more and help us target the content of the dialogue much better. Great article.

2. SHARON K. PARKER, CAROLINE KNIGHT & ANITA KELLER. Remote Managers Are Having Trust Issues

COVID-19 has turned our work-home life up-side-down. We all have had to live up to new expectations and skills. This article sheds light on how remote working has affected the manager’s and employees’ work, well-being, and productivity. And how we can help managers going forward.

Sharon Parker, Caroline Knight & Anita Keller present the findings of a survey with more than 1,200 participants from more than 24 countries. Excellent survey, but unfortunately, it does not paint a rosy picture.

The survey suggests that a substantial number of managers show low confidence in their capability to lead remotely. They report distrust in their own workers, and generally have a negative view on this way of working. Moreover, managers generally demonstrate a low belief in their ability to manage remote workers.

In line with the above, workers report a high level of monitoring and a strong sense that their supervisors do not trust their ability to do the work. In addition, they reported that they felt a need to be constantly available. This interferes with the work-home balance.

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Based on their research, the authors propose five recommendations as to developing the managers’ skills in managing remote workers.

  1. Start at the highest level possible
  2. Provide practical and moral support for remote working within the organization
  3. Educate managers about the potential benefits of remote working – when it is designed well
  4. Train managers in how to devolve job autonomy, and to check – not check up on
  5. Train managers in how to manage by results.

This is an important article and survey. Remote working will be a ‘new normal’ and our leaders much master the skill of managing remote workers. The recommendations are worth taking seriously. 

3. JANICE EPPUse the ADKAR model to reinforce handwashing behaviours

Janice Epp is a Prosci instructor and has more than 20 years of experience within change management. In this article, she suggests using the ADKAR Model to help managers reinforce handwashing behaviours.

The ADKAR model is an individual change model, and it is excellent at managing individuals through the change journey. Janice rightly identifies handwashing as an essential behaviour change, which is required for businesses to continue operation. Using the ADKAR model, she illustrates how this may look. 

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  • Awareness of the need for change: As a manager, you can increase awareness of the need for proper handwashing by asking employees what you can do to help.
  • Desire to support the change: Having awareness about something is not equal to having a desire to do it. As a manager, you should understand the personal motivators to increase the level of handwashing.
  • Knowledge of how to change: The next ADKAR element addresses whether individuals truly have the knowledge of how to wash their hands properly. Organizations can increase knowledge by providing information and instructions.
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviours: People may experience a physical or psychological barrier to execute on the change, i.e. Proper handwashing and hygiene. As an organization, you should seek to eliminate those barriers. This could be to provide hand sanitizer as needed, give people the time and permission to learn proper handwashing techniques etc.
  • Reinforcement to make the changes stick: You can reinforce and sustain handwashing behaviours by collecting feedback through surveys and by acknowledging and celebrating success.

Sometimes change projects are big, and sometimes they are small. Handwashing is a small behavioural change, but still, one which may be difficult to practice. The ADKAR model – one of my favourite change models – is a great way to make sure the change stick. 

4. HEATHER STAGL. Why Leaders Mess Up When Communicating Change

Communicating change can be difficult. As a manager, you have to convey a consistent message while simultaneously adapting the message to the different teams. But why is it so difficult? That question is being answered in this article by Heather Stagl.

Heather presents nine reasons why communicating change is hard:

  1. Awareness: Many leaders aren’t aware of how much their words and actions affect the perception of the change.
  2. Unclear expectations: Maybe the manager weren’t explicitly instructed to communicate about the change.
  3. Confusion: If the manager doesn’t understand the change fully, they may not know what exactly to communicate.
  4. Conflict: If the manager disagrees with the change, they may add an element of conflict to the change.
  5. Comfort: The manager may distance themselves from the change if they think it will be received negatively. They may blame someone else for the change, rather take responsibility.
  6. Competence: They simply lack communicative skills.
  7. Control: Some leaders may put their own spin on a change to maintain control.
  8. Politics: Leaders will often adapt too much to how their peers communicate.
  9. Time: Leaders lack time to plan and deliver the message.

What can you do about it? Heather points to a recent blog post called: How to Help Managers Communicate Change, which I will recommend.

5. NOA DAGAN, LEE BAZ-SANCHEZ, BROOKE WEDDLEDriving organizational and behaviour changes during a pandemic.

This article starts by asking “What can be done to drive organization-wide behaviour changes during a time of unprecedented change?”. Noa Dagan, Lee Baz-Sanchez and Brooke Weddle, all working at McKinsey, suggest the use of the Influence Model to achieve the mindset and behaviour shifts in organizations.

The authors suggest to use the “influence model,” a research-based interplay of the four quadrants: understanding and conviction, reinforcement mechanisms, confidence and skill-building, and role modelling. Utilizing interventions across all four quadrants helps create an environment in which employees are likely to change how they think and behave, inspiring people to be fully committed to change.

They provide a real-life example, on what interventions you can put in place to encourage three different sets of behaviours:

  1. Doing things differently, using the situation as an opportunity and innovating frequently, while looking outside.
  2. Protecting the core and instilling speed through anticipation, a quick codification of knowledge, and clear roles and responsibilities.
  3. Motivation through meaning and inspiration

Having read about the influence model, I think it can serve as a good frame for helping leaders driving change holistically. Something which is not easy. The power of framework lies in driving change across all four quadrants, consistently. Again, easier said than done, but I think it is worth the effort.

6. FRANK-JüRGEN RICHTER and GUNJAN SINHAWhy Do Your Employees Resist New Tech? 

The technological development is fast. We see new solutions and systems everywhere. But applying and adopting these tech solutions is easier said than done. In this article, posted in Harvard Business Review, Frank-Jürgen Richter and Gunjan Sinha give five recommendations as to how you, as a business leader, can create a more effective tech adoption.

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Based on Frank-Jürgen and Gunjan’s experience working on these issues, they see five key levers to help business leaders create a culture that will help drive better, more effective tech adoption.

  • Incentivize technology use: Most people use technology in their personal lives. They use platforms and tracking tools to make life simpler, more convenient and more efficient. Hence, you should find the right incentives for your workplace, to make the technology adoption more efficient.
  • Invest in the infrastructure: Make sure that your IT infrastructure is supportive and user friendly.
  • Make reskilling and learning part of the plan: When implementing new technology, ensure that you provide your employees with proper training and support to use and adopt the new tools.
  • Don’t make it piecemeal: You should have a long-term strategy toward the creation of a culture that embraces new technology well.
  • Understand how governments and policy are involved: The government can play an important role in incentivizing small and medium enterprises to digitalize faster.

This brief summary does not do the article justice, and I will encourage you to read it. The topic is more relevant than ever. Installation is relevant, but adoption and usage are key.

7. REBECCA KOOMEN, SEBASTIAN GRUENEISEN & ESTHER HERMANN.What a New Marshmallow Test Teaches Us About Cooperation

I love the Behavioral Scientist site. If you are interested in Nudging or new research within behavioural economics or related topics, it is the place to go. I will highly recommend it. And this time it is about one of my favourite studies – and also one of the most misunderstood studies – the marshmallow test.

As you may know, researchers have investigated the delay of gratification to a great extent over the past decades. Delay of gratification is one of those psychological terms, which are seen as important. If you can manage it, you will do well in life – is the theory. Researchers have also focused on what it means to a child’s academic achievements and physical health later in life. However, it is not until recently, that we have understood the concept in a social context.

The Marshmallow Test has been seen as the hallmark of studying delay of gratification and has become important in change concepts.

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Rebecca Koomen, Sebastian Grueneisen and Esther Herrmann elaborate on how children’s ability to delay gratification is affected in a cooperative context. This is based on a variation of the old ‘marshmallow test’, where two kids are rewarded interdependently. Hence, the two kids were told that one would only get an extra treat if none of the two ate the first one 

Rebecca, Sebastian and Esther suggest that children from the age of 5 are more likely to resist temptations in a social context. This indicates that interdependence facilitates cooperation.

Read the article – it’s really good.

8. GARRETT GUNDERSON. Managing Change And Business Disruption Post-COVID

In this article posted on Forbes, Garrett Gunderson writes about the post-COVID 19 situation and how to deal with business disruption. He highlights Al Comeaux’s new book called “Change (the) Management” where there is some excellent pieces of advice for how leaders can navigate the upcoming wave of disruption and get employee buy-in without wasting time, effort, or money.

The top four pieces of advice are:

  1. When It Comes to Change, Decrees Don’t Work. As we begin to recover from COVID-19, people don’t want to be told what to do. They don’t want to hate themselves for complying, either. Now more than ever, we need leaders.
  2. Inspiring Our Employees to Want to Change. The best way to drive a desire for behaviour change is for employees to understand the what and why of the change.
  3. Leading by Example. Leaders must be willing to change if they expect their people to change. After all, how can we hold our employees to a standard if we aren’t accountable to that standard ourselves?
  4. Start with Heart. Tough changes don’t have to be tough for our employees, if we’re willing to acknowledge their emotions, explain the what and the why, and then model the change we want to see.

I have not read Al Comeaux’s new book “Change (the) Management”, but after having read this article, I think I should. Although the pieces of advice here are evergreens, then we also know that common knowledge is not common practice and more examples and case studies could help bridge that gap.

VIDEOS:

9What is Nudging and how can it be used?

I believe we can use nudging a more active in our daily change management work than we do today. I guess there are two reasons why we don’t do it much today; 1) new concepts take time to internalise and 2) many people don’t know what nudging is.

This video is a quick introduction to nudging using traffic safety as an example.

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PODCASTS:

10. ALEKSANDER CARDWELL. A New Model for Employee Communication with Shel Holtz

This podcast about internal end employee communication. If you’ve ever been searching for someone knowledgeable about internal communications technology, you’ve more than likely come across Shel Holtz.

During the conversation, they talk about:

1) The definition of employee communication.

2) A model and framework to aid comms professionals in defining their communications programs that includes:

  • The direction in which true employee communication flows.
  • The content and information that employee communications should be delivering.
  • The work that goes into delivering employee communications.
  • What communicators should be focusing their efforts on.
  • The inputs into successful employee communications strategies.

3) Measuring the impact of communications across the organization.

11. MORTEN KAMP ANDERSEN & CHRISTINA GRAVERTNudging – a friendly push in the right direction 

People make most of their decisions automatically. We make them fast and without being aware of them. About 80% of them, actually. In this podcast episode, you will learn how to use nudging to help you make those decisions better.

As humans, we don’t always make the best automatic decisions. In fact, we often make a decision that our better self doesn’t like. We don’t get up early in the morning to exercise; we eat the cookies instead of the apples; we use email instead of Teams. You get the picture.

Cristina Gravert is a professor and expert in nudging. She talks about how we can use nudging in our personal and professional life. And of course, she will give us tools, tricks and insights on how to do it with lots of concrete examples.

CHRISTINA WILL TALK ABOUT:

  • What nudging is and why it is cool to be a behavioural economist
  • How you can design situations to make sure the easy decision also is the right one
  • Why some nudges don’t have a lasting effect, and how you can make sure that they do
  • How nudging can help us get up earlier to do our morning routine

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