Early effort for change, when luck or planning has “early” included, is often a lot of discussion about “what if’s”. Not the what if’s of imagining and looking toward end states, but the disillusioning what if’s about people. So and so pushed back last time, will they do it again? She refuses to team with anyone, forcing her expectations on everyone else… will that happen again? Sale won’t like this. HR will push back. Finance is stingy. Choose your chosen label, assumptions and disillusioned resistance fighting.
I sometimes get one of those uncomfortable smiles in these types of meetings. Not because I am happy and looking to laugh, but because my body is signaling discomfort-disillusionment.
The meetings are essential and the assumptions are probably to be expected. It is a people thing.
Many times after this initial, “this is going to be so hard”, wave passes over, end state descriptions get created and solid stakeholder connection begins, something shows up.
Most of us, in some way, have chosen our roles, our jobs, our careers.
And it turns out a lot of us are dedicated.
Dedicated to moving things forward.
Dedicated to learning.
Dedicated to trying hard.
And, yes, to helping with changes and change.
For this fantastic human trait I say I am wonderfully disillusioned.
The wonderful comes when the change path opens up and people start working on the list of tasks. That is when you (I on engagements) get to see people doing what they do best. I get to see talent reaffirmed. I get to see those competencies that we listed early on as important for the change, being used. I get to see people dig in to their work. We all get to see the interaction of multiple specialties and talents combining for something bigger than the sum of the individuals.
Work and talent combined with individual dedication overcomes the assumptions of resistance and difficulty. For that I am Wonderfully Disillusioned.
To be a change management consultant you have to have:
- Thick skin. Like a salesperson you have to be comfortable with NO. You have to b able to deal with all of the “no’s” to all of those great ideas and insights you have. You have to be able to say no to all of those requests to do the things that others seem to not know how to do.
- Dreams. (and schemes likely). You will be looked at as the person with all the ideas. If you are lucky you are also looked at as the person who “gets” people. Put those two together and you can change, make better, enhance anything right? Keep dreaming. That is a good trait to have.
- Lots of skill. You will end up, no matter how much you defer and say, “that is not a task for this role”, doing a LOT of different things that require specific skill- like designing and creating training, understanding user interface, coding (yes I am serious, it will happen), creating budgets, setting up meetings (like an admin.), stand up training, to name a few.
- Humility. From what I have seen lately (thanks in part to some of the templated training that can make anyone a “change management consultant”) this one is in very short supply. Especially with internal change practitioners it is getting hard to tell the difference between a CM and a project manager. There are even job descriptions now that have both terms in the title- aaagh. The practice of change management is about them (the stakeholder, the user, the employee) not you. As soon as you try to own things you lose your humility. (Which is why I think an internal CM is an oxymoron- to get paid more you HAVE to own things, that flies in the face of what change management should be).
- Self deprecation. Not too much of this. But there are times when creating an explanation of your own difficulty around something pulls in others to listen, to understand and then to try.
- Endless energy. See the first five. Now be MORE positive and have MORE energy. Now do that every day of work. Now do that multiple times in a day.
- A positive outlook. Call this the practical version of number two “Dreams”. Anything is possible. Radiate that. Live that.
- A cynical second personality. Be careful with this one. Let it out at the right time. Use it to regulate others mini versions of our list. A little cynicism can bring things down to earth. Cynicism can mold time (as in create more when something will take much longer than everyone thinks). Cynicism is good if you have the task of managing outside vendors. They promise the world and it usually is not the same world the client lives in. That was a cynical statement.
- Education. No not “certification”. A good education teaches you to be analytical. It shows you the importance of fact and it helps you weed out fact that has been cherry picked. It guides you in dealing with people. Nothing against those who have learned things on their own (I have met some amazing people who had only a high school diploma) but there is something about the interaction that an education gives that makes people operate at a different level.
- Open Mindedness. Which leads us to number ten. Keep learning. Keep replacing the old with the new- or redoing the old with a dose of the new. Listen to others no matter how crazy they may sound. Always start with a gray approach and only go to black and white when it is truly important (and remember that fact thing- opinion is rarely black and white to anyone but the speaker).
Ten traits to make sure you have for change management. (Revisit them if you have been doing this for awhile). Thick skin, dreams, skill, humility, self deprecation, an endless energy positive outlook, a touch of cynicism, fed by a solid education for open mindedness- your list of 10.
Thanks to Social Media’s push, a maturing internet (with speed for most that can deliver video), cost cutting with labor (in person trainers) and travel at the top of the list, training is something different now.
We might want to start using the word “Learning” instead of training.
How do employees, and stakeholders of change, acquire skill (which I see as the definition of training)? It used to be in a classroom seminar environment. It is now typically in a virtual environment. If the format is self service, effectively training yourself, then trainees are really not being “trained” anymore.
I have yet to see the next step of taking that self service information load and converting through application to skill. I certainly push some form of transference as part of change engagements, but it is an uphill battle.
It also appears the virtual training is more dissemination than application. A third word is in order that illustrates absorbing information without necessarily acquiring skill or building competency (competency to me being the accumulation of multiple skills to become expert at that set).
Enter Learning as a Term
In the self service vein it is now up to employees and stakeholders to translate virtual training into skill and competency. That translation is, I think, learning. If those learners relay back their need for skill application a learning cycle begins. This could come from leadership… on my change engagements I try to get them to weave in the learning loop and carry that into an operational mode after the change. In the recent past this was partly the role of the trainer (but mostly the role of leadership, maybe nothing has changed).
This comes up in the context of client work and a discussion around, “people being able to use tools and resources specific to their work to be faster, more efficient and to have work be enjoyable”. It is two pronged: One is to be “trained, or to learn in our new lexicon, how to do things; Two is to be able to find out quickly the same and have questions answered.
Many, if not most, organizations have portals, learning and development functions, TONS of online training modules (most not very good if you are asking for my professional opinion- look at Lynda.com to see good examples [a few of those aren’t so good either though]) and a small honest to goodness in person training component. As with big change that has lots of tactical effort and now supporting matrix of strategy, the mix does not really work. You can look at the results or ask some employees a few questions and see that something is not right.
Basically there is tons of training and not a whole lot of learning…
Training versus learning is an important topic for change management. The ability to do things, to use skill to build competency to bolster expertise is CRUCIAL for change to happen. This mix has to be a foundation for change management. There is some work to do out there (and HINT it is not tactical, at least initially).