Organizational Change Requires Individual Change

Hi! It's been two weeks since my last post. I'd say I missed you, but I spent that time away in California, which was LOVELY. I spent some time at a spa with my best friend, and then I spent a few days with a client talking about, among other things, change management.


I've written before about some challenges when implementing change (I compared it to one of my favorite things - cheese!), and I've been thinking about that blog post a lot lately, particularly this quote:

Change management is the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome.

Leading the people side of change is hugely important. It's all well and good to have a goal, line up the steps to get there, and to have a defined Future State. But sometimes, even when you follow all the steps in your plan to a T, you fall short of the desired outcome in one way or another, if not fail entirely.


No one likes failing.


The fact is, organizational change requires individual buy in among the entire team of employees for the whole process. Look at this illustration from Prosci, where each cell represents an employee:



This illustration shows what can happen if the people side of change isn't given due attention during the change management process. The green Future State grid is somewhat identifiable as the desired square shape, but it's very incomplete. Every missing cell from the grid is an employee who wasn't carried through the change management process.


When you have a Current State, your employees are comfortable with -- perhaps even protective of -- the status quo. I've know I've heard the refrain "this is how we've always done it" plenty of times over the years, including with my California client (did I mention it was over 80 degrees down there??) and I'm sure you have, too. You have, like the illustration above, a complete grid in the Current State.


When the decision to enact change is made and the organization moves into a Transition phase, some of those cells immediately fall away in the illustration. This could be for a number of reasons, such as:

  1. Individuals resist change instinctively

  2. An individual is open to change, but is unconvinced that the particular change being enacted is the right one

  3. An employee is unclear on what the proposed change is and how it will benefit them, so they aren't invested in seeing the change through

If these hesitations among the individuals on your team aren't thoroughly addressed, you lose those employees during the Transition phase and you will have a very hard time getting them back into the grid for Future state. You'll notice in that illustration that none of the cells that fall off in Transition make it to Future state. The change continued to happen without them, to the detriment of the organization's desired Future state.


Moving down the process, when individual change doesn't happen, you lose even more buy in at the Future. This could also be for a number of reasons:

  1. An individual is struggling with adopting the new change, and their frustration causes them to lose their interest

  2. An individual who started out excited about the change has changed their mind

  3. An employee feels that the change was rolled out ineffectively

So if your organization is planning a change in the near future, keep doing pulse checks on the buy in from the individuals on the team who will be affected by the change. If they fall off at any phase, even if you follow your plan perfectly, your change will be certain to fall short.


Want to talk?

It may sound a little nerdy, and I am ok with that, but if you want to talk about change management or how to strategize getting your folks from Current to Future State click here to set up a time with me!