Why Dropping ‘Management’ in Change Management is Good for Results

in Management by Emily Snell

Why Dropping ‘Management’ in Change Management is Good for Results

Why Dropping ‘Management’ in Change Management is Good for Results

We have certainly all heard it at some point: Everybody wants change until we ask people to actually do it.

The interesting thing is this: Despite the fact that we are creatures of habit, what we deeply want is to change so we can become better versions of ourselves. Think about it for a second; haven’t you made improvements in your work situation? Also, consider the large number of people who want to lose weight on January 1st?

The natural question that comes next is this: If we all really are creatures of change, why is it that we hate it when it hits us at work? Why is it that 70% of all change initiatives still fail?

The one thing we hate above all else is when change is imposed on us—the sort of change we have not chosen ourselves. It sounds pretty obvious when you pause and reflect on it. In fact, it might even almost sound too simplistic. We all dislike having things shoveled down our throats. It is this type of change we reject. It is this sort of change that makes us go through the slow and painful internalizing of so-called Change process as initially described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief. But make no mistake, ‘internalizing’ change does not mean ‘embracing’ it.

A proposition that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years is the one of ‘employee engagement’. But to ‘engage-in-Change’ is not the same as to ‘engage-for-Change’. While the former proposition is often top-down, the latter is built-in.

I have seen a lot of organizations attempting to make ‘Change’ sexier in an attempt to make it easier to swallow by employees with no appetite for it. And while adding some social or gamification features to the mix did help shorten the distance between ‘denial’ and ‘acceptance’ of Change, it has failed to convince the majority about the sincerity of the long-term proposition of change. In other words, the dead-serious transformational Change initiative disguised into a corporate launch event that’s perfectly orchestrated from the top, and its slick marketing collateral did get folks excited, but when the circus left town, so did the curious bystanders.

Lining-up juicy carrots and agitating some sticks is tempting. The fact is while it might have sufficed back then when Change was still cyclical, it no longer is. What organizations need in this day and age is an environment where Change just happens constantly and systematically. To paraphrase Gary Hamel what is needed is a change platform, not a change program.

Indeed, Change can no longer be managed as a process: Today’s employees are not the cogs of yesterday. Today, employees are responsible, talented and driven. To echo Dan Pink, they are autonomous masters looking for a purpose. Try to manage them to change and they will be very cynical about it all. Reversely, give them a raison d’etre – a torch to carry – and they will be your best advocates.

And while adding some social or gamification features to the mix did help shorten the distance between ‘denial’ and ‘acceptance’ of Change, it has failed to convince the majority about the sincerity of the long-term proposition of change.

And this is why I am inviting progressive organizations to drop management from Change Management – so we can stop fire fighting. In doing so, we stand a chance to institutionalize Change in the Culture of our organizations by giving people the opportunity to become who they truly want to become.

About the Author

Emily Snell

Emily is a contributing marketing author at ChamberofCommerce.com where she regularly consults on content strategy and overall topic focus. Emily has spent the last 12 years helping hyper growth startups and well-known brands create content that positions products and services as the solution to a customer's problem.

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