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When Managing Change, It's People First

Change management is an organizational term used by many and executed by few.

By way of a definition, change management is the process of recognizing and supporting the human capital impact of change on a project, initiative or undertaking. However, more often than not, change management is wildly underrepresented on any given project plan. Truth be told, it usually amounts to a line item or two on a Gantt chart.

Project Milestone 1 – Send email informing employees of change Project Milestone 2 – Launch ‘mandatory’ webinar for employees regarding change

Not surprisingly, this approach typically results in pushback, opposition and fear. The most vocal opponents to change are often labelled ‘squeaky wheels’ and dismissed as ‘always resisting change’. Perhaps those individuals are in need of some grease, but it would be naïve to assume their complaints or concerns are just noise, not worthy of consideration. Sadly, this is exactly what happens in most organizations.


It could be a resource issue, financial, human or both – or maybe it’s a belief that eventually everyone will have to change, so why bother making more work. I mean after all, if you’re changing office locations, employees have to move, right? If you’re putting in a new IT system employees have to use it, right?


Ignoring the need for change management will spell disaster, short, medium, or long term for your project. Moreover, failure to consider those ‘squeaky wheels’ is a recipe for employee resistance every step of the way.

Do you really want that?

Most projects fail, because process trumps people. The realities of organizational dynamics prove quite the opposite. People rather than processes should be the central focus of any successful project plan. Why?

People get in the way.

People that do not understand why become obstacles. People that are unaware of exactly what is changing (and why) make stuff up! It’s in our nature. In the absence of real information, we create fiction. I’ve heard many examples – but one – above all others - always comes up… Will I lose my job? What could be more human than that?

So what do you do now?

An effective methodology should be aimed at supporting those who will be most affected by the change, while maintaining planning alignment with those driving change. At the core of any effective methodology should be empowerment and transformation. Anchoring to this philosophy will help support the differing needs of individuals and create conditions and opportunities that enable impacted stakeholders to ‘buy-in’.

By using two-way communication and a people-centric learning approach, your plan will engender broad levels of participation and engagement with the change being sought after. Take the time to explain the ‘why’ and you’ll likely be surprised by what people will do to help you change.

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