It is not uncommon to find elaborate, well-thought-through change plans missing just one ‘small’ component: the people.
Why does this happen? Why do some change leaders get so lost in the detail of their planning that they forget to bring the people involved along with them on the journey?
Paul and Richard discuss why it can feel easier just to focus on the plan – and what happens when people get left out of it.
Effecting change involves two things: there’s the practical side of it and then there’s the ‘transition’ of taking people through it. Focusing on both elements leads to successful change. Having an awesome plan without the engagement and support of your people will mean it won’t be as effective as it could be.
A change plan can take up a lot of time and effort but, in a way, it’s the easy bit. Most change leaders have technical or project management skills, and know how to create a strong plan. It’s an area they feel comfortable with. But when it comes to taking people through the transition, the process is more unpredictable.
So, if you’re leading change and have a great plan but haven’t really looked at the people side, where do you start?
We’d suggest taking a step back and assessing where people are on the change journey. Ask two questions: 1, What is their attitude to this specific change? 2, How much energy are they putting into this?
Answering these questions about each individual will help you place them in one of four categories:
- ‘Corporate Corpses’
The likelihood is that at least half of the people will be Spectators. They are in the neutral zone, supportive of the change but with low energy. However, the great thing is that they can become engaged with the process if they are given information and choices.
The Champions are the people who are supportive of the change and are putting a lot of energy in to it. They can help the leaders by taking some of the burden and acting as positive role models for the Spectators.
The ‘Corporate Corpses’ are the zombie brigade – people who have very low energy and a very bad attitude, although they’re not being disruptive or causing any trouble.
The Saboteurs are usually the very noisy vocal minority who have a bad attitude and lots of energy. They are the people who are trying to hold back change and undermine leaders. They tend to attract attention and effort which should instead be focused on trying to engage the Spectators.