ILTA recently hosted a session on “Change Management Tools for Success” with Brianna Leung, Director of Strategy and Marketing, Much Law and Katie Davis, Senior Staff Training and Development Specialist, Perkins Coie, LLP and moderated by Rachel Shields Williams, Senior Manager, Experience Management, Sidley Austin LLP. Although the program was not recorded, summarized below are some of the key tools for success that the speakers shared.
Hardest part(s) about influencing change?
Influencing change is hard because it boils down to knowing that people are messy and complicated. That shows up in a couple of ways:
- Power dynamics and office politics seriously hinder the kinds of real conversations we need when supporting change. If people either don’t feel comfortable with or aren’t given the opportunity to speak up, we’re never going to surface the information we need to successfully move change forward.
- Our egos get in the way. As leaders of change we forget that we hired really smart people and we think we know better than anyone. When we don’t seek the input from our subject matter experts or don’t trust the guidance and recommendations we receive, the damage is exponential. The “I told you so” costs are not only the damage to the relationship, but they can have a real, multi-million dollar tangible expense.
- The silos of knowledge - We get so focused on our project, our objectives, our line of sight, and our timelines that we forget to factor in what’s going on around us.
So what tools do we use to combat the messiness and complicated nature of people?
- Being patient, deliberate, and recognizing that people embrace change on their own timeline - not yours.
- Recognizing that change requires people to change their mindsets, change their habits and processes, take personal and professional risks, and give up some sense of control and independence while they learn a new way. We have to allow people to adjust, to process, to learn, to fail, to learn some more, and to finally succeed.
What skills do you leverage to create change?
- Make sure the change you're striving to manage is actually the right change: the right solution to the problem. Because no matter how well you follow the plan, if it's the wrong thing to be doing, you're bound to fail.
- Who’s not in the conversation or room and should be? Are people engaged and engaged at the right level?
- People first, process second. Be empathic, listen, communicate, and think about how you would want to be treated if you were on the other side.
- Actively communicate the vision. Help people understand the big picture and “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) – showing the personal benefits or consequences so that they buy in to what will be required of them to make this change.
- Reinforcement and continued support. Behaviors change and then week two hits and suddenly people get busy and they can't remember how to do something and it's easier to just revert to the old way this one time. And then that one time becomes every time, and before you know it, the initiative fails.
What piece of advice would you tell your past self at the beginning of your career regarding change management?
- Change fatigue is a real thing. Don't be tone-deaf to what people are going through.
- Talk to more people about their approaches to leading change, and less about the specific tactics of change.
- Learning change is great. But you can follow all of the steps, and if you don’t pay attention to both hearts and minds, you’re likely going to miss the mark.
- People resist change. Don't take it personally. But to help them embrace the change, do make it personal for them.
- When change projects fail, it usually comes from poor communication, generally either omission or inaccuracy of information.
- Omission - Leadership decided it would be best to not tell some or all people what's going on, focusing instead on a “need to know” basis. Erring on the side of omission will often backfire because in the absence of information, people create their own narrative. Remember that people need to hear things multiple times and in multiple ways for it to click - one email or one mention in a meeting isn't enough. Leaders need to be on the same page and communicating throughout.
- Leadership didn't tell the truth. The truth will get out, and when it does you will have lost trust and credibility, hurting your current initiative as well as future ones. It's okay to not have all the answers, just don't lie. Keep people informed with what you know and commit to updating them when you know more.
Leading Through Change by Brianna Leung
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Any books by John Kotter
Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, 12 Powerful Tools For Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams PH.D.
Certification program and methodology from Prosci
McKinsey's Influence Model
ADKAR by ProSci
Kubler-Ross Change Curve