Tim Talks: Enterprise Change Management for Leaders
Written by Susie Taylor
Tim Talks is a series of short videos featuring conversations between Tim Creasey, our Chief Innovation Officer, and the people of Prosci. Whether you're a senior leader sponsoring the effort to build enterprise change capability or a practitioner deploying change at the project level, you will find something helpful in these videos: context for the ADKAR Model and Prosci Methodology, trends in change management, answers to your FAQs, and other topics that matter to leaders of change like you.
Today I'm talking to Tim about an organizational leader's strategic role in enterprise change management. One of things that defines Prosci is that our mission is to help organizations build their own change management capabilities, so I want to explore that.
First, Tim, why should leaders care about building change management capability?
Leaders in the organization are charged with setting direction. They decide who we want to be as an organization in the next three years, in the next five years, in next 50 years. Setting strategy is creating change for the organization. If you're a senior leader and you want to arrive at this strategic destination you're painting for the organization, you must equip the organization to successfully bring to life the changes necessary for that strategic direction.
The research tells us and our experience shows us that delivering change outcomes requires bringing people along. And so, change management capability for an executive is a way to achieve the strategic direction they're setting for the organization. It's part of what they're responsible for.
Why do leaders need to be explicit about their support for building change management and capability? Why is that important?
Great question, Susie. I've started to play with a phrase I call, "Getting past the head nod." A head nod usually indicates that people are saying, "Oh, yeah, I see where you're going. Yeah." But real commitment lies past the head nod.
Change management is sitting in an interesting space right now. Even five years ago, change practitioners felt like we had to justify our existence. Now, people are saying, "Oh, something went wrong. We need change management." The pendulum has swung almost completely the other way. But now we run the risk of this sort of lip-service, head-nod support for change management from leaders and people throughout the organization who say, "Oh, the people side of change. That's important, that matters."
I think where it gets interesting is when we get past the head nod and people ask, "Is change management important enough for us to invest in and work on?" Senior leaders are essential to demonstrating that to the organization. Not just that the people side of change is important—everybody nods their head there—but the people side of change is important enough that we are going to invest the time, the energy, and the resources. Now we have 20+ years of research telling them that it is in fact important enough. So, it's getting senior leaders to be that voice that says, "This is crucial to me as a leader, to us as an organization, and to you as a successful member of this organization."
Susie Taylor, Prosci Chief of Staff and former Change Advisor
Beyond explicit support, what can senior leaders do to help build capability?
I think there are two pieces here. One is how they show up each day. Leaders have to demonstrate great change leadership. They need to demonstrate what sponsorship looks like. They need to ask probing questions like, "Are we preparing our people for this change?" The way the leader shows up each and every day, demonstrates to the organization the value they're placing on adoption and usage above and beyond the value they're speaking to. How they show up is important.
The second piece is carving out the resources and focus to grow the capability in and of itself because this is what we watch practitioners run into all the time. I'm sure you're finding this on the road, right, Susie?
For example, we have a practitioner and client who's been tasked with growing capability and they're going to be the change management lead on three projects. So they've got three projects they're juggling over here and trying to grow capability over there. And every single time, when push comes to shove, the "building capability" ball gets dropped because the three projects over here are keeping the lights on. They're the important initiatives going on right now.
If we don't make the time and space to grow change capability, we're never going to benefit from that competency. One of the things leaders can do to grow change capability, one of the most important things they can do, is actually charter and carve off and create the time, space and resources to actually grow the capability. Because it doesn't happen off the side of the desk.
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