Change management should be like a dolphin, not a whale
Change management is a dolphin, not a whale. What? Wait. Dolphins and whales? Whales and dolphins are marine animals and they live in oceans around the world. Whales and dolphins come from the same family and both breath from a blowhole located at the top of their head.
But what have dolphins and whales to do with change management? It sounds odd, but put into context:
Dolphins surface frequently to take short breaths, communicate and ensure contact with the rest of the pod. The level of effort required for each breath is small. Whales, on the other hand, tend to take long breaths, dive deep and stay submerged for long periods of time. The level of effort to surface for another breath is significant.
Change management is a process, not an event
One of the biggest roadblocks to a successful implementation of change in a business is getting the people “in the trenches” to not only understand what is coming but also to agree with what’s happening.
When applied to organizational change, the “whales vs. dolphins” concept involves dividing change into a series of short steps or phases – similar to how dolphins breathe. That’s why change management is a process, not an event! Transformation doesn’t happen overnight!
So how does a company ensure breaths are kept short?
Communication is extremely important when it comes to making change stick. It takes time for people to hear, understand, and believe the message. And if they don‘t particularly like what they hear, then it takes even more time for them to come to terms with the concept of change.
Leaders should make it clear why, how, and when a change is being instituted, not just to employees but to anybody else who might be affected by it as well. It keeps employees informed of progress, reinforces the change benefits, answers the “what’s in it for me?” question and sets expectations.
Celebrate – Pour champagne on it!
When it comes to change management, people don‘t believe in a new direction because they suspend their disbelief. They believe because they‘re actually seeing behaviour, action, and results that lead them to conclude that the program works.
Change initiatives can be frustrating and take a long time. It is therefore critical to celebrate milestones once they have been reached. When it comes to organizational change – Pour champagne on it!
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