Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. - George Bernard Shaw
 
Picture this: you need to find a new solution for running online meetings so you can collaborate with your global team spread out across different time zones. You pull up your handy search engine and start researching with your top three priorities in mind: cost, quality, and ease of use.
After a week of calls with vendors and free demos galore, you find a tool that fits the budget and meets all your needs. You attend training, evaluate the proof of concept, and are happy with the outcome. You think: "Now I just need to implement it across the team, and my job is done!"
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Not so fast. 
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Rolling out a new tool across a team is not a one-and-done process. Implementing a new tool takes a lot of work and careful planning. Forcing your team to use a new tool will result in instant resistance and failure. 
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Giving your team the option of using a new tool will result in a less than 30% adoption rate. And when only a small percentage of your team is using the tool, you might as well not have it at all. 
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Either your entire team is not using it, or they are, but their mindsets and old habits remain the same. 
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This is why change management can fail so easily. Over the last 40 years, studies have shown there is a 60 to 70% failure rate for organizational change projects. 
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Unfortunately, there's no "one process fits all" solution to change management. You need to understand what's important to your unique team and see what techniques work best for the rollout. 
 

What is Change Management?

Change management is the process of guiding and supporting employees to successfully adopt a new way of working. This might include everything from switching to a new email system to using standing desks only (yikes). 
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Change management is a challenge that requires not only patience and persistence, but also proper motivation and transparency. 
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The ultimate goal is not just to implement a new product, or cultural change, but implement a more efficient way of thinking and have everyone understand the purpose and support the new system.   .

The ultimate goal of #changemanagement is not just to implement a new product, but a more efficient way of thinking via @jerrymanas @wrike

 If a rollout is large enough, change management is commonly passed along to a third party or HR to handle. This often creates a disconnect of accountability, and doesn't allow managers to actually strengthen their ability to manage change. Neither does this create transparency. In fact, the reason for change often becomes unclear as the process changes hands.  

 

Why isn't Change Management Working?

There are several theories as to why change management has been such a continuous struggle for so many years. 
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According to Quiet Leadership, David Rock's book on transforming leadership at work, the lack of change management success is due to the way people think and react. 
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Rock says: "Ordering people to change and then telling them how to do it fires the prefrontal cortex’s hair trigger connection to the amygdala. The more you try to convince people that you’re right and they’re wrong, the more they push back. The brain will try to defend itself from threats.”
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Another stance pinpoints proper management and leadership as the culprit for poor adoption. Leadership consultant Jerry Manas, wrote a 10-part blog series on mastering organizational change in the workplace. According to Manas, "Implementing a tool or process will not engage anyone unless it helps them do their jobs easier. And if it doesn't help the people directly (and it may not), then it's more a matter of articulating a rallying cry or compelling need and asking their help in addressing it."
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Although there are several processes out there to choose from, many of these ignore the complexity of human behavior
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People feel stable and secure when they form a routine. Resistance to change arises simply because change often represents the unknown, a loss of security, and disrupts any kind of routine. 
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Looking at it from a psychological angle, there is a lack of understanding about what properly motivates people to change. Several change management processes derive from the concept developed by famous 1950s behaviorist, B.F. Skinner. His model theorized that good behavior should be awarded and bad behavior should be corrected. His cause-and-effect message is purely based on the idea that consciousness is irrelevant to understanding human behavior, and the best way to understand behavior is to look at an action and its consequences (aka, "Operant Conditioning"). 
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Although this form of incentive works for understanding right and wrong and meeting quarterly sales goals, it has shown not to have positive long term effects on change. Applying Skinner’s model of Operant Conditioning in the long term may actually dampen our intrinsic motivations, crowding out our ideals and social incentives. The problem with extrinsic rewards is that they may actually suppress intrinsic motivations and values—ultimately having a negative effect on behavior and performance. 
 

What Needs to Change for Change Management to Work?

With so many employees experiencing "change fatigue" from the ongoing circus of adopting the latest technology and adjusting to cultural shifts at work, it's important to learn what can be done to improve the actual process of change management. 
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In today's world, transitioning to a new system requires more than just presentations and training sessions. It's important to speak to the human side of change as well. Understand that some people will resist, and be prepared when that happens.
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Assess readiness. Is your team even ready for a change? Is this a good time? Conduct a quick session to discuss your ideas and hear their thoughts. Getting a sense of their workload and schedules will help you determine an appropriate time to implement the change. 
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Be transparent. From the beginning, make sure your team is aware of the reasons why you decided to shift to a new work system. Update them as you're evaluating tools; what you're looking for, and how much research you're putting into it. This will help them understand the reason for the change and hopefully get behind it and be supportive. 
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According to Jerry Manas, "It's important to make any of their concerns very transparent, and ideally try to find a way that they can get their needs met by supporting your needs." 

#Changemanagement is all about finding a way to can your team's needs met by supporting your needs. via @jerrymanas @wrike   .

Address concerns. After announcing the change, hold office hours or a private chat room where employees can air their concerns and discuss their challenges. This not only helps make them feel included in the decision, but also might help you understand things from a new perspective and address it before it becomes a bigger issue.
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Measure success. How do you know if your transition was successful? Take a look at this scoring system developed by Harvard Business Review that allows you to define a project score. Using this DICE scoring system, organizations can determine the success of their programs by asking executives to calculate scores for each of the four factors that make up DICE: duration, integrity, commitment, and effort. 
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Keep Evaluating. Evaluation isn't over when you've selected the system or initialed the DocuSign. Monthly or bi-weekly check-ins with your team are good habits to keep things running smoothly and ensure you're getting the most out of your new tool. It also acts as a good reminder to keep using the new tool and receive any feedback on the new process. 
  

Carry On with Confidence

As you've learned, the journey to change is rarely a linear one. There will be bumps in the road and plenty of doubt surrounding the change. If you take into account the human aspect of change management and understand that it's rarely greeted with praise and approval, you'll be more equipped to handle the task
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Remember that change is inevitable in every organization. With the right plan in place, you can launch a successful transition that will transform and enhance your business and team.
 
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