Change Management: The Single Most Important Success Factor

Life Is About Change. Sometimes It’s Painful. Sometimes It’s Beautiful. But Most Of The Time It Has An Element Of Both.

Change is the one constant in all our lives, both personally and professionally, and what is common is that to achieve your desired outcome you need people to embrace the change. Easy right?

A few years ago, I embarked on building a house. Well I engaged an architect and a builder, so technically I approved the design and paid for it…! The point is it that it was a significant change for me, as I was looking to do something I had never done before. Excited, I rushed to share the (very modern) design with my mum… not backward in coming forward, her supportive response was “it looks clinical”’. Not exactly the reaction I had hoped for! Sometime later into the build, my mum visited to see how we were progressing. I left her to wander around on her own, as I was still a little upset about her initial reaction. When she returned she smiled at me and said “it’s beautiful sweetheart“. Ha, I thought!

The truth is that whenever you look to do something different everyone has an opinion; positive, negative or ambivalent. Understanding and listening to them is key to achieving buy-in to change. In the case of my mum, I knew that jumping to challenge her initial reaction would not have changed her negative opinion into a positive one, I needed to understand that she had to experience it for herself. 

In our working lives we experience the same reactions when we look to introduce change. Hence, to realise the benefits of any change, how we manage the transition of individuals, teams and organisations is key to the success. To achieve a successful transition, we need to understand teams and individuals and adopt the right strategy to engage and listen to them.

In the Financial Services world, change – be it regulation changes or technology advancements – seems to be coming quicker and quicker, and before you have finished implementing one you are already on to the next. Not surprising then that we tend to measure the success of any change by the implementation of the project rather than the transition of teams and individuals, and the realisation of the benefits of the change. While we might be able to tick ‘done’ next to a project implementation, sustainable and long-lasting change cannot happen unless your teams are on board and engaged.

Change management, and the transition of people and organisations, needs to be built into every project and requires a different capability to that of the traditional project manager. You not only need to know how to assess the impact on the organisation and how to transition from where you are today to where you want to be in the future, but you also need to know how to communicate and align the organisation to that change. Never forgetting that people transition includes both internal and external people – those pesky regulators need to be kept informed too.

Change – and its element of the unknown – is what makes life exciting, and to reshape an organisation you need to excite and inspire people to the changes that are coming. Get it right and you spend your time celebrating the achievement, get it wrong and you tend to spend your time resolving issues.

Within TORI, engagement and transition of people and the organisation is a central part of all our client projects, be it large-scale organisational change or standalone projects…without it, change simply cannot be successful.

If you would like to understand more about how to ensure the engagement of your teams during transformational change programmes get in touch.