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Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

What an Effective Change Management Process Looks Like

Friday, November 18th, 2016

We’d all like to find a “magic pill” for helping us deal with workplace change. But handling change is a process, and there’s often no quick or easy way through it. Just today, there was a major update rolled out for some software that everyone in our office uses. Collective groans rose up from every workstation, along with grumbles of “I HATE [insert software’s name here]!” and “Ugh. WHY did they change that??” And this was just a software update–imagine employee response when larger changes are announced, like projects being canceled, downsizing, a new manager being hired, or a brand-new work process being introduced. Rarely are organizational changes met with widespread enthusiasm, even when they turn out to be positive changes.stress-management

Change management training can help any organization prepare its employees for a change, and teach them strategies for managing the stressors and emotions that accompany transitions. In the workplace, change is often imposed — it is presented to us as a “done deal.” Managing the change, itself, may not be an option. What can be managed, and managed well, is our internal response to the change — our personal transition.

Change consultant William Bridges developed a three-stage transition model, a progression of experiences termed Endings, the Neutral Zone and Beginnings. Unlike normal processes where we start with the Beginning, during transitions, we begin at Endings and Beginnings is the goal! Viewing transition in terms of the three stages helps us understand that the needs, challenges and opportunities presented by change can be managed as a progression of responses.

The Endings stage is where we sever attachments to the old way of doing things, and it can be a painful and disruptive time for people. Here you should identify what is really ending, try not to overreact, and do what’s necessary to experience emotional acceptance of the “chapter” that is closing. For most people, the Neutral Zone is the most anxious, perplexing, and difficult of all the stages. It’s the period when you’ve let go of the past, but the future isn’t yet clear; you must learn to tolerate ambiguity in your work situation during the Neutral Zone. Finally, the Beginnings stage is where you are open to trying new experiences, and you take action to move forward with the “new way.” This is often the stage where people experience a realization that we are, after all, highly adaptive creatures.

Employing change management training is an effective strategy for helping employees manage these various stages of change. Good training will include effective change management activities which stimulate conversations and help employees practice or role-play the new change strategies and behaviors they’re learning. For example, here’s a change management activity that can be used at the start of a training session to help “break the ice”: Change Icebreaker Exercise: Pulse Check on Change.

CRM Learning offers numerous change management training video programs including these:

Taking Charge of Change features realistic workplace vignettes that illustrate William Bridges’ 3-step model for transitioning through the stages of change and making it work to your advantage.

Ready. Set. CHANGE! equips employees with skills to react smarter, adapt faster and engage together more productively when change comes around again.

4 Ways to Combat Negativity at Work

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

attitudevirusworkforce_thumbNegativity in the workplace can be related to overwork, job insecurity, lack of leadership, boredom, lack of rewards, personality conflicts and many other factors.

Any one of us can be tempted to “go negative” from time to time.  Sadly, for some, it is the way they communicate most of the time. Whether you are working to combat your own negativity or are needing to respond to negativity from others, here are a few things to keep in mind: (more…)

Too Much Change? Here’s How to Avoid a Victim Mindset

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Change is a constant. Whether it’s the annual stress of open enrollment for health care (“Wait, what? My coverage is changing again?”) or an unexpected shift in your job focus (“But I thought the lime green widget was a priority. When did we change to the purple gizmo?”) — the one certainty is that change is going to happen.

Taking Charge of Change video imageAnd there’s one thing we do have control over: how we respond to change, even when it comes at us out of the blue.

We can get stuck being a victim. You know those people, right? They’re the ones holding a pity party in the break room. Or, we can respond positively and keep moving forward. You know those people, too. They’re the ones who are more fun and interesting to be around!

Here are five tips for staying out of a victim mindset, even when it seems like everything is blowing up around you. (more…)

A “Learning/Discovery” Approach to Change

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Today’s organizations face change in a variety of areas…at an unprecedented rate. And though we’ve been told that constant change is the “new normal”,  we usually look upon it with fear and negativity.

Susan Campbell, author of From Chaos to Confidence, has an interesting take on the topic.  Campbell views navigating change as being a lot like surfing:  “Successful surfers stay just ahead of the wave that could wipe them out at any moment.  They use the power of this very same wave, participating with the wave, not fighting it or trying to control it.”

In the same way, to survive in a constantly changing workplace, Campbell says we must learn to relate to our environment rather than trying to control it.

One way to do this is to shift our mindset from “Security/Control” to “Learning/ Discovery”.

If we maintain a Security/Control mindset we focus on stability ( i.e. knowing the rules, being around people like us and having things turn out predictably).  We don’t like uncertainty, change, lack of structure or people who don’t share our point of view.  We view change as a loss of control.

Alternatively, when we develop a Learning/Discovery mindset, we become open to experimenting in unfamiliar situations.  Because we relate to our environment rather that trying to control it, we focus on creatively developing ourselves to succeed in our changing environment.Instead of worrying about what we’ve lost, we ask, “What does this moment require of me?” This attitude shift is very empowering, making change an opportunity for growth.

According to Campbell, when we get trapped in a world of wishes and fears, we lose the power to deal effectively with reality and the options it holds.   The key to getting “unstuck” lies in letting go of attitudes and reactions that don’t work and focusing on ones that do, like those listed below: (more…)

6 Tell-Tale Symptoms of the Abilene Paradox

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Team Effectiveness TrainingIn our previous article we wrote about a humorous family “trip to Abilene” and the concept of the Abilene Paradox.  We also discussed
how the Paradox affects us in both our personal and work lives.   Today, we’ll explore six tell-tale symptoms of the Paradox.

Remember that professor Jerry Harvey described the Abilene Paradox as the inability to manage agreement rather than the inability to manage conflict.  This inability to manage agreement is the essential symptom that defines individuals and organizations caught in the web of the Abilene Paradox.

Consider this workplace scenario:

Sue, Tony, Jasmine and their manager, Chris, all have strong reservations about implementing a proposed procedural change.  Individually, each one is convinced the change will cause more problems than it will solve.  BUT, because the proposed change was suggested by a highly-paid consultant, and because no one else is voicing their concerns, each individual claims to support the plan (when they really don’t). The procedural change goes forward…seemingly with unanimous consent.  Later, when troubling operational issues surface, the  group members get annoyed with  one another and blame the consultant for giving bad advice. Eventually—despite a hefty investment in the flawed new procedure—the organization decides to go back to the old way of doing things.  Susan, Tony, Jasmine and Chris never discuss the matter again. (more…)

Are You a Hoarder?

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Leadership TrainingNo, we’re not talking about the TV show, and we don’t suspect you of secretly stockpiling paper clips – or even of having too many cats.

But you – or others in your organization – might be hoarding knowledge.

The phrase “knowledge is power”  is sometimes interpreted  as, “If I keep all the knowledge to myself, I will have power.” This is the hoarder model. It’s based on the flawed assumption that knowledge is in short supply, and that if we “give it away” by sharing what we know, we lose something.

The statement “knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied” is a more helpful approach, recognizing the reality that knowledge isn’t a “thing” that, when we give it away, we no longer have. Instead, shared knowledge increases understanding and insight.

When knowledge flows within an organization, that sends a message of trust and confidence to all employees. This alone tends to motivate and energize everyone involved. (more…)

Mentoring and Change: Creating an Environment for Successful Transitions

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Change ManagementChange is the Only Constant

Change is upon us, and we no longer doubt that it has become the way of life in our decade and beyond. In the real world, change occurs only when people embrace it, champion it, and have the courage to move onto uncharted paths. Successful change is about discovery and resistance, and attending to the needs of the people who are an integral element of the process.

Mentoring As Support for Change
Effective mentoring is a powerful way to address people’s needs during change, thus reducing resistance, and opening the path for the new desired future.

Mentoring Competencies That Support Growth
The ability to guide people through successful change is linked to specific mentoring competencies.

Successful mentoring relationships act as vehicles that enable people to develop the new behaviors that are necessary for change. These relationships are based on simple, but powerful principles:
• Mutual trust, developed as a result of mutual respect;
• Commitment to growth and discovery, through support and challenge;
• Openness to give and receive help and feedback;
• Commitment to action and results, the ability to make it happen.

Examples of Mentoring Help during Change

Each phase of transition offers different mentoring challenges. The following examples illustrate how mentoring behaviors can be tailored to meet specific needs.

Phase 1. Optimism
Early in the change process people may have an unrealistic view of what is required. Mentoring can provide a direction that keeps people on an even keel, and helps them understand the full impact of what is needed during change.
The mentor accomplishes this by asking good questions that help people identify their individual reactions to the change. This questioning process looks at both positive and negative aspects of the change, and helps identify future needs. By also sharing his/her own experiences with change, the mentor makes the change experience real and possible. (more…)

Helping People Through Workplace Change

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Helping People Through Workplace ChangeEven under the best of circumstances, human beings struggle with change in the workplace. Much of this is due to the fact that workplace change typically involves a fundamental alteration of the methods and procedures with which we have become comfortable. This in turn can make us bitter and resistant. We may lose our perspective and our ability to perceive our situation accurately. We may tell ourselves “we’re no good” at what we do anymore. Or, we may think we’d be better off in a different workplace and quit.

It is very common for people to dwell on the “good old days” to the point where they reject a new direction or method altogether–leading to a whole different set of problems between employees and co-workers and employees and supervisors.

Many organizations address this reality by offering training that helps employees reflect honestly on how change affects them emotionally, psychologically and physically. These employees can then build on their increased awareness and develop specific strategies to meet the needs underlying their personal reaction to change.

The Taking Charge of Change, Revised Edition video training program is a proven organizational change management tool. Built on William Bridges’ change cycle, the video uses vignettes (more…)

Race Without a Finish Line

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Race without a Finish LineHighly successful organizations typically don’t settle for “good enough.” Good enough is barely a step above mediocrity, and that just doesn’t cut it in today’s hyper-competitive world.

To stay on top, organizations must always be asking themselves:

  • Is our product as good as it could be?  And, if the answer is no…they make it better.
  • Is our organization as effective as it could be?  And, if it’s not, they work to address ineffectiveness wherever it is found.
  • Are there new opportunities available to us? And, if there are, they figure out how to take seize those opportunities.

Employees in successful organizations aren’t just in a race with the competition…they are in a race with themselves.  A race to achieve the best that is within them. (more…)


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