Adopting a change culture is no longer an option for organisations, it’s a necessity for businesses looking to remain competitive, retain talent, support growth and ultimately survive. But when planning, implementing and managing a change initiative what steps can we take to adopt a sustainable solution?
We look at how motivation is used in change management and offer useful tips to support individuals and organisations through change initiatives.
There are a whole range of theories and models around change management. Each theory offers its own solution to sustainable change and many adopt a logical and sequential approach, which in many instances leads projects to fail or to only be partially successful.
Change isn’t logical and no one solution will suit every organisation. Change is complex, full of contradiction and paradox because it includes the “business ecosystem”. This is the organisational environment, people’s vision and values and their beliefs about themselves, their organisation and the world in general. Organisations need to create clear, realistic vision about what can be achieved through change and be honest about where support is required.
Ultimately organisations need to use creative approaches to change management and understand the conditions necessary for change. Building on the research by Don Beck and Chris Cowan we can identify six conditions necessary for change; key “musts” in change processes:
- People will not change unless they appreciate a pressing need to do so.
- People need to have the will, ability and potential to make whatever changes are necessary.
- People need to have some idea about why there is a problem and what alternatives exist to do things differently.
- People need to know how current problems can be resolved so they can move onto new challenges with confidence.
- People need to know how to deal with resistance to change: resistance may be internal, such as personal fear of the unknown, or external, such as a lack of promotional opportunities.
- People need to be given support and consolidation so they can learn new skills in a relatively safe environment with plenty of encouragement.
Change Management is all about people, valuing individuality, positively managing people through the change process, communicating and providing the right leadership.
Michelle McArthur said: “Appreciating the value of individuality within the workplace is crucial to successful change. Managers need to understand how change affects different types of people, the roles each type will play and the support that each individual requires during the change process.
“From having the ability to identify stress indicators, through to anticipating behaviours and reactions, Managers need to improve their skills and have the ability to influence and guide team members during the change process in a positive manner.”
So with people at the heart of our change initiatives, does motivation hold the key to sustainable change?
I hear a lot of talk about motivating people at work but the truth is people motivate themselves. Clearly motivation to change is an essential part of change management but some more common approaches, such as relying on the “Carrot and Stick”, can be very risky.
The carrot or the stick relies on change in response to pleasure and/or pain. This view of change believes that we move towards things that attract us (carrots) that we associate with pleasure and move away from those that we associate with pain (sticks).
We see this situation in organisations every day. Some individuals will be motivated by certain things because they want to achieve a particular outcome, so we find the right ‘carrots’. Others are motivated to do something in order to avoid a particular thing or situation, so we find the right sticks.
This approach should be adopted with caution; ultimately we need to know what constitutes a reward for each individual.
We need to know when and in what contexts people are ‘moving towards’ or ‘moving away’. We also need to consider that if people are trying to move away from a factor that is perceived as a huge threat they can simply shutdown, overwhelmed by the size of the perceived threat.
So when it comes to motivation what do leaders need to know?
- Know the values and the motivations of each of your team
- Create an atmosphere of trust
- Be creative – work out if and how each individual’s motives can be satisfied in a work setting
- Create an environment for positive beliefs and support the confidence of each member of your team
- Provide appropriate support networks and coaching to help motivation, learning and change
- Celebrate short term success quickly
Overall no one theory or model will offer the right solution to sustainable change. People should be at the heart of all change initiatives and an individual’s needs must be considered at every stage of the change process.
David Taylor, Senior Learning Consultant
See our Tools and Tips on Change, Change, Change.
*Article originally published in 2010 within our Newsletter, Bits and Pieces.