In today’s world, all change cannot be planned. Increasingly change is emergent – it happens as a result of an organisation’s need to be adaptive to stay competitive in fast moving times. It follows then that organisations with a ’change-ready’ workforce are likely to see success from their initiatives faster than the organisation that waits until change plans are introduced before preparing their staff.
In a world where change is ’business as usual’, should we now be considering that an understanding of change, and how to handle it, is a core business and workforce skill?
Facilitators v Deliverers
When thinking about a whole workforce in the light of change, there’s a useful distinction to be made between ’facilitators’ of change, and ’deliverers’ of change. For an organisation to be able to respond to change effectively, both of these groups need to be ’made ready’.
When it comes to training programmes, those that attend are typically drawn from heads of departments, senior/middle managers, HR professionals, project managers and change agents. These are facilitators of change, and generally do not have the responsibility to ’deliver’ change at a local level. It’s important that these facilitators are given the time, budget and support to involve as many of the ’deliverers’ as possible – these are the operational people, supervisors and line managers that are in the front line and will typically grapple with the day to day challenges that change brings.
Change as a universal competence
Change management professional development for ’deliverers’ should be aimed not only at increasing the technical competence required by a change, but at providing the understanding needed for operational staff to deliver their contribution to the change more effectively. Organisations can achieve this by including aspects of change management in their standard competence frameworks wherever possible. The ability to handle change, to be effective in changing times, and to influence others to be adaptive and flexible are invaluable skills.
Extending the line of sight
For executives to have confidence in their organisation’s ability to deliver effective change, they must have a line of sight to those people who will actually deliver change for them. Responsibilities for facilitating and delivering successful change are shared throughout an organisation.
The ability to deal with change needs to be nurtured throughout the workforce as an organisational asset. An understanding of change management process, and the people skills needed to really embed change, are now core competences that are needed by the many, and not the few.