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The Importance of Change Management Skills – Professionally and Personally

Change_Management_Skills.jpgAt Trumpet, my role is as an advisor to our clients, which includes assisting firms with adopting new technology. One of the things under this big umbrella of a job is to assist firms in changing their processes and procedures to improve their efficiency and to help them enjoy the way they work.  So you’d think change would come second nature to me; it doesn’t!

In the middle of my 40th birthday celebration (yes, I just gave away my age) this summer, amongst the hoopla of a singing telegram, black balloons, and a birthday cake, my husband received a phone call offering him a great new position in another state. In addition, my role here at Trumpet had been shifting and changing as we grow by leaps and bounds.  Basically, everything in my life has changed over the course of the last 2 months. 

During this fun and exciting time, I’ve come to rely on the same change management skills I use with my clients to assist my family (and quite frankly, myself) in handling our transition.  I want to share these with you so that you can be the change manager for your firm.

Resisting change

Let’s talk first about those that are resistant to change entirely. In the swimming pool of life, these are the folks who dip their feet in the water, decide it’s too cold and goes back to their deck chair. Change is difficult for them.  They may feel that change is being thrust upon them and they don’t have a choice in the matter. My son was incredibly resistant to our move. He was reluctant to leave his friends and make new ones.  He had a great deal of fear of the unknown.

First, it’s important to get co-workers buy-in and in my case, my son’s buy-in. My son wanted to help in selecting our new home and became much more excited about the move when he could envision his things in his new room.

Maybe your resistor will want to help select the new technology or create a process that you’re choosing to adopt. Help your resister “see” themselves in the new process. 

Second, it’s important to focus on what’s staying the same. For my son, explaining that his family was still going to be there for him and he would still have access to his old friends via phone and social media was instrumental in helping him through the process – he wasn’t losing friends, just gaining new ones.

Finally, validate their feelings and recognize that you know change is hard for them and appreciate their willingness to try.

Slow to Change

Others are fine with change but want to move slowly. These are the folks who are fine to get in the swimming pool but walk in one step at a time getting used to the feel of the water. They are cautious and want to make sure they’re not getting in too deep too fast. I’m a slow adopter.  While I wasn’t resistant to the move, I felt overwhelmed by all the changes at once.

These folks are probably willing to change, but getting their buy-in is still important. When faced with change, I lean towards “planning mode” and the slow adopters in your firm are probably the same. For example, it helped me to visit our new city and get a feel for the lay of the land.

Your slow adopter might want to test the new software you’re adopting, or try a new process a couple of times before engraining it into their workflow. I created a moving spreadsheet and timeline to understand the steps that would be involved in the transition. Provide your slow adopter with the ability to ask a lot of questions, understand the steps of the change and the timeline surrounding it.

Embracing Change

Finally, there are people that embrace changes. These folks dive in head first to any endeavor that you throw at them. They’re great for initiating change and you probably don’t need too much encouragement to get them to jump in. My husband is a diver and was thrilled with the change but he took on too much too fast and became frustrated with our reluctance. 

First, it’s important for the diver to understand the other point of views.  Explain to the diver how you’re feeling and the implications of the change their initiating. Having a sit-down conversation with my husband about how difficult this was for us really opened his eyes. 

Second, divers tend to take on a lot all at once. If it were up to my husband, we’d have moved two weeks after the offer was made and he felt throttled by the inability to make that happen. When possible, compromise with the diver and let him or her roll with it. Make sure that you throw them a life preserver when they get in over their heads and try to take on too much at once.

In the chasm of personalities, we rely on one another to help with change. By relying on others, it allows us to stay grounded and move forward as a team.  Appreciate and validate all of the personalities in your firm.

The resisters and slow adopters need the diver to push them to change. The diver needs the resistor to push back to ask the question, “Is change really necessary?” The diver needs the slow adopter to make sure the change is well thought through.  The resistor needs the slow adopter to have thought through the change to make sure it’s appropriate before adopting it. 

Different “strokes” (pun intended) for different folks.

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Andrea Krakower

Andrea Krakower

Andrea brings 10 years of advisor consulting and project management experience to Trumpet and serves as our lead trainer. She skillfully navigates clients through the process of adopting new technology, revolutionizes firms by listening to their pain points and steers them through workflow processes and procedures to find efficiencies and improvements. Andrea's cheerful, dynamic approach (fueled by gallons of Coca-Cola) injects a shot of adrenaline for technology junkies, and for those less tech savvy or reluctant adopters, transforms them into skillful users. She's an avid sports fan and University of Missouri alum (M-I-Z-Z-O-U!).