Internalizing Change Management to Develop “Change DNA” Among Managers (Part 1 of 2)

The Change DNA

THE NECESSARY “INTERNALIZATION” OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT

Barely ten years ago, organizations mostly had to deal with timely changes as the need arose, and they managed these situations by creating ad-hoc committees. Today, it’s a whole new ballgame: change is a permanent, ongoing issue, and several changes can occur simultaneously, often requiring a cross-disciplinary approach. As a result, it’s now essential to internalize change management – which means that managers have no other choice but to instill a genuine culture of change within their organizations. As for external consultants, they’re either called upon from time to time for specific requirements, or mandated to oversee major transformations.

EASY FOR YOU TO SAY…

This internalization requirement leads to the following question: who will shoulder this overwhelming responsibility? This question is so complex that several answers have been proposed so far. Some people think that it should be a corporate office project; others say it should fall in the lap of strategic planning managers, HR departments, or IT. Often, the course of action is dictated by the nature of the project or the source of the funding.

This logic of accountability inevitably leads to a flawed concept of change, i.e. it’s considered just one in a long list of deliverables, one more project to manage ad hoc. However, change is not just generated by projects, but rather by organizational life itself. Certain dimensions of change – like organizational and management culture, for example – transcend all other projects. Furthermore, issues like team mobilization and work processes are changes that are experienced in parallel with other projects and that affect the same stakeholders. And that’s in addition to the countless other small projects that exist beyond the project management structure, but that still bring their share of changes. So the challenge is no longer to manage change, but to manage the organization’s ability to continually change. Thus, it becomes management’s responsibility.

WHO WILL INHERIT THIS RESPONSIBILITY FOR CHANGE MANAGEMENT?

The answer lies in the question: if it’s a management issue, it’s up to the managers to take responsibility. That said, given the fact that change management is a complex, delicate and energizing task, there’s no doubt that managers have everything to gain from getting solid support from one of their internal management teams.

In this regard, we feel that Human Resources departments are especially well positioned to help managers add this to their list of responsibilities, by serving as both catalysts and facilitators of change. Why HR?

  • Assuming the organization is used to functioning in a matrix environment, HR will be able to facilitate the sharing of roles and responsibilities.
  • The HR team works very closely with management and operations, which allows them to guide the change process forward, up to its operational implementation.
  • The cross-disciplinary nature of HR operations within an organization facilitates HR’s contribution to developing a culture of structural and operational change.

It seems clear that managers can benefit from working closely with HR to help them get a clear understanding of the issues they face and the impact these issues may have. The HR department could also be mandated to develop a relevant change-management and skill-development service offering.

If this role is not given to HR, managers should identify which team is best positioned and best equipped to guide them. This mandate could then be prepared and planned out by the chosen team. We’ll be discussing this planning process further in Part 2 of this article.