When to Develop Individual Change Capability
Organizations frequently wait too long before they tell their employees about proposed changes; so most people find out through the grapevine. Leaders often feel that if they tell people too soon they will lose productivity and divert attention from the task at hand. That is a mistake.
First, people are already diverted by the uncertainty about what will happen. Second, those affected by change need time to prepare themselves for the new ways and support to make it happen. Third, by not actively engaging key stakeholders in the organization leaders fail to surface the organizations capability to change.
While the specific nature of some organizational changes may not yet be clear, the general direction and major assumptions are often known. The sooner people begin to prepare, the more ready they will be to change how they think, work, and behave.
Change Demands New Skills Mindsets and Ways of Seeing Work
Employees need more than commitment to succeed at change. They need help to understand the new expectations and how to assess their own ability and desire to work in new ways. Reaction to change is often determined by fear of the unknown, lack of preparation for change, and inadequate skills for managing change. For most, dealing with change is not a natural skill.
Current ways of thinking and working are deeply ingrained and heavily reinforced by existing systems and structures. It is the employees who have to make the change successful. But employees often do not know how to do the job in a new and whether it makes sense to engage, resist, stay, or leave.
Employees Need to Share Responsibility for Change
Often employees feel that change is not their problem; change is only the responsibility of the top leaders or of a change leadership team. If people act like the leaders will take care of them, they will not take the responsibility, initiative, or develop a real commitment to self-development during the change process.
Employees also tend to focus narrowly on their own specific area of responsibility which can limit their ability to see the overall need and direction for change. But when there is a major change effort, every employee has to develop a broader and more strategic big picture view of where the organization is why.
8 Guiding Principles to Develop Individual Change Capability
It is difficult to help people shift their mindset until you demonstrate how and why their tasks are shifting. Experiential learning is the fastest way to acquire new skills.
The Bottom Line
Just as a change champions need to learn about change, employees need education and preparation to be an integral and engaged part of the change process. If employees are treated as passive recipients, waiting to be told what to do, they will not be real partners in change. Are you investing enough to develop individual change capability?
To learn more about successful change at work, download How to Mobilize, Design and Transform Your Change Initiative
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