3 Change Management Tips – How to Swap the Old for the New

On a blackboard an arrow entitled Old Way and one entitled New Way point in opposite directions illustrating how change management consulting can be

Learning new ways to do things involves absorbing new knowledge and applying new skills but it also then necessarily involves subverting the old way to the new—a kind of change management that requires some UN-learning.

Change management consulting experts say that even though we may be convinced that the new way is better than the new—more effective, more efficient, and/or less costly, it is not easy to shed old habits that have become ingrained over time.

Think about every time an app is upgraded. It’s hard not to look for a function on the old menu first when it’s now on the task bar. Or have you ever found yourself driving almost automatically to the old office well after you’ve moved to a new location? Or reaching for a computer mouse when you long ago switched to a touch pad? The older way of doing things interferes with the change to do things differently.

Eventually, of course, you adjust. But how does this so-called “unlearning” process affect your ability to function in a competitive marketplace where change is constant? Change management consulting gurus say you need to be able to react quickly and shift to the new way faster than your competition.

Here are three tips on how to manage change from the old to the new more effectively:

  1. Set stretch goals
    Let’s say you are in customer service and you are no longer being rated on how fast you complete each customer call but on how well satisfied customers are at the conclusion of the call. This is a new way of treating the customer and thinking about how to be successful. You need to change your approach from “how quickly can I end the call” to “what does the customer need and how can I serve them.”One way to achieve the new behaviors more quickly is to add an element of anxiety by setting goals that seem out of reach…say you want 90% of your first-week customer calls to show satisfaction with the way you handled them. Impossible? Maybe. But the “fear” of not reaching the goal helps focus your attention on developing the new attitude and skills needed to succeed and away from the earlier goal of speed at all costs.
  2. Expand your sources of input
    Don’t just stick with your old influencers. Reach out and look for new sources of information and inspiration. If, for example, you have been unsuccessful at dieting, perhaps you need a new way to approach the challenge of eating healthier. Check out different proven programs. Research what foods are most important to your long-term health. Ask your doctor, friends and family what has worked most effectively for them.Sticking with the same-old program will give you the same-old results. No longer rely on what you think you know. Shake it up and broaden your contacts so you benefit from the strength of diversity.
  3. Question your conclusions
    Challenge yourself by looking at opposite points of view. This will enhance your flexibility and sharpen your ability to change. If you stick to your opinion without even looking at a conflicting point of view, you could be guilty of being an ideologue by blindly adhering to a particular ideology. If you are in a company, say, that has been highly structured and is now moving toward a flatter organizational structure, you need to be open to the advantages of the new direction.You can’t just stick with the old way…you’ll be quickly out of sync with the new and favored culture.

The Bottom Line

Challenge yourself to learn and un-learn at the same time. Change is inevitable. Pay attention to the advice of change management consulting professionals and make sure you are equipped to deal with it smartly and effectively.

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