Blogged on:

Change Management as a Culture

Project Management and Change Management are close cousins. When we discuss change management, we’re not talking about the processes to integrate scope changes in projects, but more organizational shifts and transformations. These changes can be set out to deal with market changes, technological changes, growth or contraction due to clients, or any other force that requires the organization to adapt to thrive.

I attended a PMI seminar recently on Change Management and it got me thinking about culture and its adoption of   transformation. Some teams and people have encountered high resistance to change- which is understandable. Change can be scary!

So does a resistance to change represent problematic attitude? Maybe- but maybe not. Perhaps the culture of the team isn’t congruent with adapting to change and got me thinking about ways you can foster a culture where change is more welcomed.

Here are some environments where changes and transformation would be adopted with smoother transitions.

  1. Empowered teams
  2. Flat Organizations
  3. Cultures of Accountability
  4. Continuous Change/Improvements
  5. Welcomes innovation

So- what’s something these have in common? They are all about the bottom up as opposed to the top down- that’s not to say that important decisions are not made by the executive or management teams, but that the ethos of the company is about the people on the team – trusting them with responsibility and ownership.

Company culture isn’t really something you can force quickly. It happens over time. You can change it, but it takes a lot of investment and patience. As an executive it can be a little scary handing power over to the teams and trusting they will not only make the right decisions but decisions that you agree with- and if you don’t agree with them- adapting your own vision and direction to accommodate the vision and direction that the team has developed. So it comes down to a level of trust- having confidence in the team and sufficient information with them that they can make sound decisions and take the larger picture into account.

Beyond that- ensuring the team feels safe, feels like they’re valued and seeing how their work makes an impact on the big picture all helps encourage a culture of adopting and celebrating change.

Change is also a necessary function of operations. You should always be tinkering and tweaking- that will also help when a transformation of greater impact is necessary- the team will not see the change as a scary beast that will just get everyone fired or make their jobs harder (Just to measure your expectations they probably might not see it as the best thing ever and it will result in huge bonuses for everyone).

Construction sign

So- some of the things that we as PM’s can do to help ease along the change is

  1. Patience- It might not get it the first time. That’s okay.
  2. Explanation of how impacts the big picture- So they’re not wondering what the point is.
  3. Explanation of how it will benefit them – Again so they’re not wondering what the point is.
  4. Breakdown of changes – What does each person need to do differently
  5. Trust- Trust that the team wants what’s best for the team and organization and is not trying to sabotage the efforts.

In closing- when you point the bus in the new direction, it’s easier on everyone if the people on the bus know why you’re doing, where you’re going and are excited about the new destination. If they’re neither, how successful will this change actually be?