October: The 17 best Change Management articles, videos and podcasts

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Change Management resources are getting better and better. There are more of them. They cover a broader range of topics. They are more aligned with current affairs and less generic. Indeed, there has never been a better time to ‘get nerdy’ about Change Management. Why is this happening now? I don’t know. But I love it.

Change Management is a broad field, and this month’s edition is a reflection of that. Themes include resistance to change, motivation, CMO & CoE, nudging, agile, culture, communication and much more.

Let me know of resources you have found interesting in October. Or if you have written anything, we all should know about. I’d love to hear about it. As always, comments and reflections are welcome.

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

ARTICLES:

1. MATTHEW AMENGUAL & EVAN APFELBAUMFeel-Good Messaging Won’t Always Motivate Your Employees

How do you motivate employees? For years, research has suggested the use of a prosocial ‘why’ to our commercial activities – environmental sustainability, social justice etc. Nevertheless, new remarkable research suggests genuine ‘cost-saving’ rationale is more effective in many situations.

The article published in Harvard Business Review is based on an extensive experiment on what messages are most effective in changing employees’ behaviour. The two professors, Matthew Amengual and Evan Apfelbaum, argue that a prosocial rationale for behaviour actually may be less effective than a “cost-saving” rationale – if the behaviour also advances the organizational bottom line. 

Hence, people perceive the organization as less genuine if they offer a prosocial rationale for behaviour that also advances their bottom line.

This article really had me thinking – maybe it will you too. 

2. ANKUR SHAHA Senior Change Advisor’s Approach To Managing Resistance To Change

We experience an extreme level of change in today’s society. And with change comes resistance. This article is written by Ankur Shah, a Senior Change Advisor at Prosci. He provides us with his three steps to managing resistance.

  1. Anticipate the ‘why’. Ask your team members and employees to share their thoughts about the change and build hypotheses as to why your employees may resist. 
  2. Listen to impacted people. Conduct a resistance focus group to help you understand the resistance. Ask questions like “what are you resistant to?”, “who do you need to help you overcome resistance?”. In the article, Ankur describes a step-by-step guide to conducting a resistance focus group. That is an excellent reference point. 
  3. Determine your “what”. Identify the top issues, and attack those head on. Integrate the issues into your change management plans. 

I have found that resistance is often underestimated and many are surprised about it. And let’s face it, resistance to change is complex and hard to master. But maybe these 3 steps can make it simpler?

3. DAVID WILKINSONDoes a performance dip always occur during organisational change?

Last month, I highlighted an article on the change curve also by David Wilkinson. I will strongly encourage you to check out his articles – they are always a source of inspiration and well-researched. In this article, David asks why a change always leads to a performance dip.

Based on Leopold and Kaltenecker, David argues that performance dip partly occurs because of the process of learning, unlearning and reorientation. However, he adds the element of emotion. Change usually involve a loss of some kind.

This emotional element can have many facets. David talks about the loss of identity and status, loss of control, loss of knowledge and skills, loss of face, loss of a psychological contract as well as the loss of networks and colleagues.

I like articles which focus on the emotional side of change. Because it is less understood and hugely influential in the success of a change. This is a great article, which also can give some inspiration for managing resistance. 

4. ALICE FARRELL AND FIONNUALA O’REILLY. Nudging To Boost Volunteer Sign-ups During The Coronavirus Crisis

People all over the world have volunteered to help at-risk people and frontline workers during the COVID-19. But how do we keep this momentum of volunteering? And how can we use nudging to do that? That is the question the two authors, Alice Farrell And Fionnuala O’Reilly from the fantastic Behavioural Insights Team (BI TEEAM) answer in this article. I have enclosed the article because nudging is an important topic for us to understand, and the BI Team is the best at that.

The two Behavioural Insights advisors present three key aspects of human behaviour that could be leveraged to make the messages as persuasive as possible.

  1. People like things easy – so make it easy to volunteer. Too many choices may complicate things. BIT crafted the messages, so they only contained a small number of positive actions to choose from. They also tried to help people embed positive behaviours into their routines, which increases the likelihood of long-term behaviour change. 
  2. People do what other people do – so make use of social norms. Emphasize how many others are actually doing this new behaviour. They also found it to be profitable to highlight the contributions of others. 
  3. People think about their identity – so make volunteering part of theirs. To foster a sense of belonging amongst volunteers has also proven to help persuade people to volunteer more. 
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As the winter approaches, we must now, more than ever, sustain this momentum of volunteering. Using behavioural insights and nudging to do so is a good idea. Thank you for a great article. 

5. MORTEN KAMP ANDERSEN. Covid-19 has changed “effective sponsorship”. Here is how

Going virtual is a big change to the most of us. I wrote this article to shed light on how Covid-19 has changed the role of an effective sponsor. As a sponsor, being active and visible are among the most important roles. This can be very difficult carry out virtually. Nevertheless, here is how:

  1. Be active: Show up on virtual platforms. They provide many opportunities to be active and visible and sponsor a change. 
  2. Build a coalition of sponsors: rotate participation. Both the leadership and executive team must take an active part in the virtual activities. Alternate participation. 
  3. Communicate directly with employees: leverage technology for greater flexibility.Offer flexibility using a variety of platforms and collaboration apps/chats than that allow for delayed reading and response.
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The virtual environment may pose as a challenge, but we see many opportunities as well. I hope this article will inspire you to redeploy your sponsorship efforts. 

6. IBI THOMSONWhat is the value of a Change Management Office?

The world of the Change Management Office (CMO) is evolving, and yet it is not fully hard-wired into the psychology of many organisations. We still find that CMOs are having to justify their value and size whilst paradoxically experiencing an unprecedented level of demand to help their organisation navigate the rapidly changing landscape. 

In this article, Ibi Thomson from Issoria seeks to articulate and demonstrate the value of a Change Management Office. He has brought together four experts who know exactly what it takes to run a successful CMO, to help communicate the answer to “What is the value of a CMO?”. 

The four experts, Richard Newton, Nick Freeman, Oneka J. Cornelius and Ursula Erasmus, provide us with their perceptions of the value of Change Management Office and the challenges in demonstrating such. They each give their answer to questions such as “What is the value of a CMO?”, “What challenges have you found in demonstrating value?” and “How have you overcome these challenges?”.

It is a good article, that can help you justify the Change Management Office in your organisation. Also, Issoria has a number of White Papers about CMO which you can download. They are very useful.

7. LINZI PARRY & JACQUI RIGBY. How might change be less overwhelming and exhausting?

Linzi Parry and Jacqui Rigby are publishing several articles about agile and working with change management. This article starts by concluding that change management is an exciting journey – especially in these days. Change is everywhere. But what do you do if you’re the type of person that gets overwhelmed by change?

Linzi and Jacqui list four things for you to try to get more personal satisfaction from driving change. Linzi works with Enterprise Agility, Change & Transformation at The Agile Company, and I really value her suggestions.

  1. Break the change into smaller chunks. Focus on the first block that will give us some learning to apply to the next step. 
  2. Anticipate resistance. Walk a mile in the shoes of those resisting – if you are ready for it, it won’t throw you off course.
  3. Be honest about the impacts of the change.
  4. Play to your strengths to bring momentum to the task in hand. Our personal motivation increases when we are using our strengths. 

Nevertheless, as Linzi states in the article, our brains have limited capacity. Don’t beat yourself up if you do not succeed at all levels on your first try. Find out when your mental energy is at its highest and work from there. Great article, thanks for your work Linzi and Jacqui.

8. ALEXANDER DILEONARDO, TAYLOR LAURICELLA, BILL SCHANINGER.When one size doesn’t fit all: How to make change personal

The three McKinsey consultants, Alexander DiLeonardo, Taylor Lauricella and Bill Schaninger, argues that leaders can drive lasting change at scale by personalising strategies and models.

Personalisation of tried-and-true strategies empowers people to engage in the change in ways that are personally meaningful. Hence, it can improve the likelihood of making the change stick.

They show that the personalised influence model remains the same, i.e. with the same four levers but that the tactics may need to change to personalised them. For example, Role modelling goes from “Visible and symbolic actions by leaders or influencers” to “People in your social circle that you respect and admire engaging in new ways of working”. The other three levers; Fostering understanding and conviction, Reinforcing with formal mechanisms and Confidence and skill-building also need to be personalised.

The authors come up with the following steps to create your own personalised influence model.

  • Determine meaningful employee segments, such as job level or role.
  • Break down organisational goals into specific behaviours that demonstrate what “great” looks like for each group.
  • Use focus groups or analytics to uncover people’s preferences and underlying mindsets.
  • Develop and roll out personalised actions across each lever, using tech-enabled tools to enable mass deployment.
  • Track progress and iterate in real-time to maximise impact.

I like the article because it comes with great examples and a good step-by-step approach. The personalisation theme has been explored through several McKinsey blog posts. I will encourage you to read them all. 

9.  LAMARSH GLOBAL. 5 reasons to introduce a Change Management Center of Excellence

Setting up an internal structure to advance the maturity of Change Management is an important next step for any ambitious organization. A Change Management Centre of Excellence is a team within an organization that delivers and sustains change management. It’s not the only framework that can achieve this purpose – other models that can contribute include a change management office, practitioner network or community of practice.

The goal of a Centre of Excellence is to foster and steward successful change management through these core functions:

  • Establish a structure. Introduce and strengthen change management standards, methodologies, tools and best practices.
  • Disperse knowledge. Provide support, coaching and mentoring to leaders, change practitioners and people affected by the change.
  • Deliver learning Define roles and responsibilities, and then provide skill assessments, training, certification and team building to enhance the competency of leaders and change practitioners.
  • Identify and monitor metrics. Demonstrate the value of change management through the ongoing collection and evaluation of key metrics, while archiving and sharing the experiences of past change initiatives. 
  • Allocate resources. Contribute to the governance of change management by allocating budgets, people and resources across all their possible uses.

There are many other resources related to a CM CoE on LaMarsh’s website. One of them is a review of your organization’s current change management capability. Very useful. 

10. 4 Change Management Strategies for Managing HR Digital Transformation

Human Resources Today have shared an article on how to use change management strategies for managing HR’s digital transformation. They argue that digital transformation is about change – not technology. To support their claim, they present four articles about digital transformation.

One is about making organisational data actionable – how to put data to good use. Another is about creating a culture where employees have the freedom to help drive organisational change. The last one is about using ADKAR as a framework to achieve individual and organisational change.

Digital transformation can be difficult, but with the right Change Management process, it gets a whole lot easier. 

11. KRISTINA MARTIC. The Ultimate Management Communication Guide

Effective communication is important. We know that. But the way we communicate has changed dramatically. In this article, Kristina Martic from Smarp gives us some of the best practices for building, implementing, and managing a successful management communication strategy. 

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Managers are the primary driver of employee engagement. Nevertheless, 70% of employees believe that their leaders do not spend enough time communicating goals and plans. As a result, they do not feel informed and engaged. This article provides us with 8 ways to improve management communication in the workplace

  1. Communicate frequently, transparently, and be approachable
  2. Adjust communications to your multigenerational workplace
  3. Encourage employees to speak up
  4. Personalize communications based on your employees’ needs and interests
  5. Pay special attention to your remote, frontline, and blue-collar employees
  6. Enable mobile-first communication
  7. Measure the impact of your communication efforts
  8. Implement the right communication technology

This is a comprehensive article. Read the full article to get deeper insights into the importance of managerial communication and the most important management communication skills. Throughout the article, Kristina supports her claims with relevant research and figures.

Thank you for a great article Kristina. 

12. LISA KEMPTON. Cultural Awareness in Global Change Management: Regional Differences

Cultural traits can have a great impact on our responses and expectations during times of change. In this article by Lisa Kempton from Prosci, Lisa has asked Prosci’s global partners what they have to say about the similarities and differences they experience in other parts of the world and how this affect how they do Change Management.

The five global partners, Faculta, Change Enablement, And Change, Silfra and our very own Nexum, represent a palette of cultures ranging from Denmark to Mexico to Hong Kong to Russia.

They address several aspects of change management in different cultures. Here amongst what attributes of each culture that support effective change management and, how each partner adapts the “why change management” message to fit their respective culture.

We are all different, and it is important to take our cultural traits into consideration when doing change management. We are proud to be represented in the article, as cultural characteristics is an important perspective for us when doing change management. 

13. MARGARET HEFFERNAN. How the Best Leaders Answer “What Are We Here For?”

In good or bad times, a leader must always be able to answer the question “what are we here for?”. In times of uncertainty as now, a meaningful purpose is even more important. In the article posted on Harvard Business Review, Margaret Heffernan argues that leaders must shift their goals from maintaining the status quo to constructing a newly imagined future.

Margaret uses examples to sustain her point through big organizations and competent CEOs, and it is her examples I like the most. In one, she cites a British banking leader who said that “We may be in a pandemic, but the one thing we can do is make every customer feel financially secure”. Although in this case, they recognized that this goal was well-intentioned, they also knew it was impossible to achieve. The alternative to imposing meaning is to let it emerge.

It is an interesting article about finding a new purpose in a changing world. 

14. DAVID LEE. Organisational Fitness- Build your Muscles and Grow your Change Management Maturity

Building change competency is like building a muscle. In the beginning, it is hard, requires a lot of energy and stresses our bodies, but the more we do it, the easier it gets. In this article, David Lee helps us train our change muscles.

He argues that we should define our goals as benefitting from a change to develop a profitable strategy. To do so, you firstly should understand the readiness of the organisation. David has listed several phases that indicate whether your organisation is fit or unfit for change. Secondly, he helps you understand the environment of the organisation to respond most effectively with change. Having done so, we can begin to assess the appropriate goals.

Conclusively, David lines up 10 concrete initiatives an organisation can take to build their muscles for performance:

  1. Recognise change as the end goal
  2. Make change THE leadership competency
  3. Trat information as an asset
  4. Value and build networked relationships
  5. Reward “observe and adapt” behaviour
  6. Create change ecosystems, not functions
  7. Build frameworks for change and allow adaptation
  8. Focus on small interventions, prepare for big ones
  9. Disrupt your daily routines
  10. Treat resistance as an opportunity

This recap does not do the article justice. Read it in full to understand each step better. 

PODCASTS:

15. WHAT MONKEYS DO3 Ways to overcome resistance to change w/Rick Maurer

Last week I interviewed Rick Maurer on my podcast What Monkeys Do – a podcast about what it takes to make a change and make it stick. We talked about resistance to change. I really enjoyed making this episode!

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We talked about a lot, but here are the main subjects:

  • The three main reasons for resistance and how to approach each of them
  • The importance of active listening and how you can get better at it. 
  • How to feel the energy of a change, and replace fear with enthusiasm in times of change. 

Rick gives us plenty of examples in the podcast. Listen to the full episode to hear them all. 

16. THE 90TH PERCENTILE: What Great Listeners Actually Do with Jack Zenger

Are you a good listener? Chances are you think you are. People’s appraisal of their listening ability is much like their assessment of their driving skills, in that the great bulk of adults think they’re above average.

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In this episode, Jack Zenger from ZengerFolkman talks about that good listening comes down to doing three things:

  • Not talking when others are speaking
  • Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (“Mmm-hmm”)
  • Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word

In fact, much management advice on listening suggests doing these very things – encouraging listeners to remain quiet, nod and “mm-hmm” encouragingly, and then repeat back to the talker something like, “So, let me make sure I understand. What you’re saying is…” However, recent research suggests that these behaviours fall far short of describing good listening skills.

Mindful listening is an art, that is difficult to master. Maybe we could all learn a thing or two. 

VIDEOS:

17. Andrew Tran Digital. THE IMPORTANCE OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT IN COVID-19: Interview with Friska Wirya 

In this video (which is 14:57 long), Andrew Tran talks to change management consultant Friska Wirya about the role of change management during Covid-19 and why it is so important. 

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