Change Management: A love and hate relationship – Part 2

As change managers, we should be aware of the possible emotions we could face during the process of change management. As promised at the end of Part 1, we are going to take a look at some common emotional reactions of IT staff during the change management process, and what we as change managers can do to manage those reactions.

Frustration, anger, and hate (avoidance/resistance) are the key emotions I’ve seen IT staff experience when change management is in place.  The following are examples of the ways in which I’ve seen these emotions manifested:

  • Frustration – I’ve seen engineers get frustrated when they’ve had a change rejected due to missing information, or they missed a deadline for changes to go to Change Advisory Board (CAB) for that particular week.
  • Anger – Observed when a change is rejected due to the CAB not being satisfied with the change required; the CAB questioning the credibility of the test results, or additional technical staff being brought in to confirm the technical details of the change.
  • Hate – I’ve witnessed a staff member completely avoid the process, following a number of bad experiences. This is the worst of the three as it is likely that this feeling could spread to other staff and an unhealthy culture is then created within the department.

In Part 1 I mentioned how important it is to manage all the ingredients of change to ensure a successful outcome. This is important not just during the transition to a full-fledged change management process, but also after the process is in place.

Most challenges, in my experience, come after change has been implemented as opposed to when it’s being introduced. With that in mind, here are some actions you should take during and after implementation.

  1. Continue promoting the process and its benefits to both the business and IT dept.
  2. Hold workshops with key stakeholders across the organization to help IT staff visualize what it is you’re trying to achieve.
  3. Monitor and make improvements to the process as needed. Set up a system to log and manage   feedback from your IT staff and make them aware of the outcome whatever the result
  4. Always be working to secure more funding so you’re prepared should improvements incur additional costs.
  5. Take the time to reassess the process on a regular basis, and use the 30,000-foot view to do it: Is the process where it should be? Does it need to be integrated further with other processes? Are there any gaps that could be filled?

It is advantageous to us as change managers to learn to appreciate the level of emotions surrounding the change management process. If my experience is any indication, the only way to change the perception a lot of IT staff have about it is for change managers to make an ongoing effort to address the challenges change brings to an organization. Not just the emotional challenges, but also the challenge of managing the foundational ingredients that create successful change management.

 

Hitesh Patel

*ITIL® is a registered trade mark of the Cabinet Office

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