The Four C’s of Change Management: Choice, Conviction, Commitment, and Compassion
Guest Post Jennifer Dubow
After spending a week at SXSWI for the first time, I met a lot of folks in a range of roles and companies including:
- Large enterprises responsible for transforming their business practices and workforce to adopt social business.
- Digital agencies and social business consulting firms trying to get their clients to adopt social media programs and new mindsets
- Social Media software vendors trying to train their clients to more fully adopt the software the client has purchased
- Startups seeking to scale their businesses and sell their software or services
To me, one resounding theme, especially with the onset of Spring, is that Change is in the air.
Organizations and their employees may or may not want to become a social business, but the impetus for change, whether externally or internally driven, is getting stronger. In my years in organizational change management consulting, I often heard the phrase “People (or Organizations) change when the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of change.” Another common question asked is “What’s the burning platform?” that will make executives take action.
Change is a Choice. It’s that simple. Going through with the change, whether in your personal life, or in your organization, is tough. It may not always feel like a Choice, especially when the change is driven from an external source, such as a new CEO who has a new set of directives and style.
As we’ve seen in my last post about the Change Curve, people follow a predictable process on the change journey, and each step along that journey requires a Choice to continue moving forward. Deciding to be part of the Change is also a Choice: there are benefits and consequences to either participating in the change or resisting the change.
Once you or your leadership have decided, “Ouch, this burning platform is about to explode, I better make some changes,” then you need to have the Conviction to see it through to success. Having that Conviction, or that belief that change is possible is very powerful. In practical terms, your belief in the possibility of change may take the form of a vision of change or a roadmap of transformation (“as is” vs. “to be” state), a project plan, or a motivating speech to call the staff to action.
Another complementary technique to consider is solution-focused guided imagery, an approach long used by Sports Psychologists and Athletic Trainers to help athletes win in competitive situations or overcome barriers to success known as “the yips.” You can encourage your staff to imagine what a successful change would look like, or practice this yourself. Either way, having a positive focus and belief that your organization can successfully change will go a long way.
Whether you are embarking on a personal change such as trying to lose weight, or a Social Business adoption program such as retraining your workforce on social business skills, or rolling out a new internal collaboration system, transformative Change is actually composed of many small steps that require Commitment.
This is the place, in my opinion, where Change frequently breaks down. Change often takes time, especially large organizational transformations such as incorporating social business practices into core business processes. People can experience “change fatigue” along the way, executives may get frustrated that adoption or performance results aren’t where they should be, and the list goes on, etc.
It’s at this point, where we need to show Compassion towards ourselves and ideally, executives can take this opportunity to show Compassion towards their staff. Showing Compassion doesn’t mean excusing poor results or throwing in the towel. What it does mean is acknowledging that Change can be difficult for some, validating the challenging nature of change, and reaffirming that each step of the way requires Commitment, and re-Commitment on the part of the entire team of staff and executives.
We can think of the change journey as a series of Choices and small steps requiring micro-Commitments. When things don’t go according to plan, have some Compassion for yourself or your teammates. And recall that Conviction and belief in the possibility to Change that got you started on the change journey in the first place. That’s the real Magic in the C’s of Change.
As always, I welcome your thoughts, reactions, and any additional C’s you may think.
Follow me on Twitter @jennifer_dubow.
Image: StockFresh Change