7 Keys to Effective Change Management

by | Aug 22, 2023 | Blog

“The times they are a-changin’ ” Bob Dylan wasn’t wrong. The times change all around us at speeds he could never anticipate. When he wrote that song in 1964 computers were housed in huge air-conditioned rooms operated by technicians in white lab coats. Look at us now… we all carry computers in our pockets, and they’re a ton more powerful than those old mainframes.

So, change is good, right?

The answer to that question should be a resounding YES! But the reality is more people than you think resist change. Which doesn’t really make sense, does it? We should be used to change since it’s the only thing we can count on. And it’s been that way forever, or at least back as far as the days of the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who said, “The only constant in life is change.”

Since we’re surrounded by it and we are compelled to either Change Or Die as eloquently stated by Alan Deutschman, why do so many people resist change?

2 Reasons Why People Resist Change

The answer could be due to a person’s behavioral preference and/or their dominant motivator.

1. DISC Assessments Might Be The Answer

According to the latest validation study by Innermetrix, 35% of those who completed the DISC personality assessment scored highest in the S personality type. The S refers to Stabilizing behavior and some of the most prevalent traits or preferences for those with a high Stabilizing score are patience, predictability, and consistency. These folks prefer when things remain the same.

Change can be uncomfortable and disruptive even to those with dominant traits in the other 3 DISC categories, especially if the individuals whom the change will impact the most are not involved in conversations about the change process. This is one of the biggest reasons change management efforts fail: lack of communication between the change-ers and the change-ees.

2. Values Index May Offer A Clue

Another possibility could be hiding inside a Values Index report. Of the 7 values and motivators, people with a high Regulatory drive might have a tendency to resist change. They prefer established rules and systems, and asking them to do something in a new and different way could throw a little fly in their oatmeal.

It’s important to be patient and persistent with people who have a high Regulatory score. You may need to offer some proof points as to why this change is necessary and allow them some extra time to weave a new system into their existing ways of work.

Now that you have a sense of what your team might be bringing to the table, let’s look at some ways you can make change happen.

People Are The Key To Change

There are tons of models to follow on change management. The 7 R’s offer one popular framework. First released by the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) in 2007, it supposes that if you ask these 7 questions, you will understand the risks of making a change:

  • Who RAISED the change?
  • What is the REASON for the change?
  • What is the RETURN required from the change?
  • What are the RISKS involved in the change?
  • What RESOURCES are required to deliver the change?
  • Who is RESPONSIBLE for the build, test and implementation of the change?
  • What is the RELATIONSHIP between this change and other changes?

While these questions are very applicable in the tech world, we believe there should be some changes made to make this change management mindset more applicable to the business world at large. Only 2 of the 7 questions overtly focus on people: #1 and #6. Let’s shift a couple of those to a more people-centric approach.

  1. Who RAISED the change?
  2. What is the REASON for the change and WHO needs to know it?
  3. What is the RETURN required from the change and WHO will benefit?
  4. What are the RISKS involved in the change and WHO will measure them and decide if we are willing to take them?
  5. What RESOURCES are required to deliver the change and WHO will identify and gather them?
  6. Who is RESPONSIBLE for the build, test and implementation of the change?
  7. What is the RELATIONSHIP between this change and other changes and WHO will decide which changes are worth implementing first?

It would be easy to overlook that human element unless it’s built right into your change management process.

This subtle shift in thinking will help you keep people first.

Keeping People First

Another favorite change management model consists of 4 C’s. This one attempts to keep people first.

  • Commitment – Failing to achieve commitment is the top reason change initiatives don’t work.
  • Connections – Change requires a community effort from diverse individuals. Creating connection in cross-functional teams is vital.
  • Communication – This is the glue that holds your change management process together. Without it change comes hard, if it comes at all.
  • Creativity – Embrace innovation and allow the team involved to try new things and possibly have a little fun along the way.

Are you feeling the human connection in this change management model?

Change Can Be Good

Change initiatives are not always a smooth road. No matter how well you prepare, how effective you are at remembering people are the key to successful change, and how conscious you are about keeping people first, some employees will embrace the change, and others will fight it.

Bob Dylan really knew what he was talking about:

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

When instituting change, keep your people involved so they can keep their heads above water.



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