An introduction to Change Management

Sophie Grant, Principal Strategy Consultant Change management, Workplace strategy

We met with Peldon Rose's Principal Strategy Consultant, Sophie Grant, to talk about change management. We’ll take a look at what change management means, why it’s important and how to effectively navigate change within the workplace.

What is change management and how does it apply to workplace strategy and design projects?

Implementing a new workplace strategy and design is one of the most visible expressions of change an organisation can make. Whilst a new work environment can be a driver for increased collaboration or productivity, realising the full benefits will require your people’s attitudes to shift and their behaviours to change.

That's where change management comes in.

The aim of change management within workplace transformation is to shape people’s expectations to match their new environment before they experience it. Whilst an office redesign or relocation can be perceived as a ‘step change’, people adapt their attitudes and behaviours slowly and incrementally over time. You can think about change management a bit like an iceberg. It tackles the stuff below the waterline, the deep-rooted values, beliefs, and assumptions. It tackles perceptions you can't see, which many organisations find difficult to address.

By having a change management process in place, steps can be taken to motivate, educate and prepare people for change. It’s easy to assume that individuals will automatically adapt to their new workplace. However, many will resist change, and those that do adapt to the change, may not change in the way that you'd hope. In essence, change management is your ultimate risk mitigation tool.

What are some common misconceptions of change management?

1. Change management is just project management

You can't project manage behavioural change. Project management is all about the technical change. It has well documented guidelines, follows a linear timeline and manages the activities of a project to meet specific goals and requirements. Change management is all about the hearts and minds of people. It has no specific guidelines, follows a much less structured timeline, and manages the impact of change resulting from organisational or project developments.

2. Change is a single event

Change is a transition and, contrary to popular belief, it starts with an ending. It requires saying goodbye to something we know before something new can begin. We typically use the Change Curve (Kübler-Ross, 1969) to help describe this experience of transition.

3. Change management can wait to the end of project

Change management is often thought of as a final implementation step to get to the finish line. However, change management should be proactive: a plan for the plan. It should be implemented and integrated from day one as soon as a direction or future vision for the workplace has been decided. By engaging stakeholders upfront, valuable feedback can be implemented throughout the creation of a new workplace strategy and design.

What does change management at Peldon Rose look like?

We first need to determine the level of change effort required for each client. The extent of change needed varies from organisation to organisation depending on several variables. We look at current conditions, needs, resources and attitudes of the organisation. Once we have a clear understanding, we like to think about change management as a three-part, project integrated process. All three are crucial to success, otherwise you run the risk of disengagement and frustration.

Motivate. Why should your people care?

This part is all about demonstrating why and what is changing. If the why message isn’t clear, you’ll struggle to get people onboard.

Educate. Can your people do it?

This part is all about helping people understand how to change. Equipping them with the right tools to prepare.

Sustain. How will your people make the change stick?

This part is all about living the longevity of change.

In the next instalment of our change series, find out more about our three-part, project integrated process and how we can help.

Peldon Rose's Workplace Strategy team

Headed by Leeson Medhurst, Peldon Rose’s Strategy team works with clients to create a complete, accurate and insight-based picture of what your workplace could and should achieve. Then, we help show you what the space could look like, how it could evolve, while ensuring we take your team along the whole process with us.

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