Change is not always easy, for human beings to implement. And change management is no exception. Professor Adrian Furnham, makes a comparison, with keeping a diet:
– It’s keeping it going, that’s most difficult.
In a rapidly changing business world, with many technological developments, and more gamechangers about than ever before, change management is becoming a more important focus point for companies. Many firms devote a lot of resources to this. And many change programmes fail miserably, for more reasons than one.
A common reason according to Adrian Furnham, a psychology professor at University College, London, is the treatment of change management almost as a one-time implementation.
– There are, with most change programmmes a pre-launch, launch, and post-launch phase. People spend so much effort, so much time and so much psychological energy, on the first phase: carrying it out, and launching it. Actually, it’s keeping it going, that’s more difficult. Like diets that all fail, because diets stop. It’s keeping it going, that’s most difficult. You need life-style changes.
Professor Furnham, who will be speaking at the third annual Copperberg Field Service Forum in Amsterdam on 8-9 June, explains one more common reason, for failure in change management processes:
-The way the change agents go about it. There are people, who try to bring about the change. We can call them change agents. They may be consultants, they may be part of the organisation. The change agents are often distrusted and can appear to be dishonest. They may not use the most appropriate strategies in the particular organisation.
Yet another reason for failure in the change management process, according to Professor Furnham, is:
– Not targeting the people in the organisation, in the best way. You want to know, what might be called the ”stakeholder map”. Those who are going to be ”onside”/pro-change” and those who are powerful. One crucial thing is to find these people in the most efficient way, get them on board so that they ”carry the message to others”.
Change in a business structure, is often unpopular within the business itself. As an organisation ”delayers” itself, many realise that they will lose power and perks, and fight against the process.
– The topic of change is, at the same time, anxiety-provoking, and boring. Boring because people talk about it the whole time. That ”we have to change”, that ”organisations have to adapt to new competitors, customer demands and increasing costs”, et cetera. – – Anxiety provoking, because it’s difficult and hurts, says Professor Furnham.
But we all recognise it is a case of ”adapt or die”. Change is not an option: it is a constant necessity. We know that, even though we might not like the implications.
Change implementation at a workplace, is often met with opposition, from the employees themselves. All sorts of people oppose change.
– Some people oppose change, because of the perceived threat to their jobs. Technology is going to replace many jobs. If you go to supermarkets or airports, service staff jobs are being replaced by machines. Others oppose change because they see they will have to learn more skills, or perhaps work more efficiently. Some resort to passive and others to more active means of opposing change, which can be very problematic.
Professor Furnham, who has published 84 books and about 1200 papers, gives a hint about what direction his ”Service Mastery Day” at the Copperberg Field Service Forum on 8-9 June is going to take:
– I am going to start my talk, with a few observations on changing individuals. Do people change much over time? And if so, what can we change, what can’t we change? How do we bring that about? Does coaching, therapy and training work? This is not about organisations, but about individuals, he says.
– I am then going to talk about organisational change: different strategies (for example the economic vs re-engineering model) and stages in the process. I am going to mention some very famous models, and where I believe they are right and wrong. Finally I am going to talk about who, why and how people embrace or react to change, and what to do about it.