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Are you blurring the lines between Change Management and therapy?

Have clarity around what your Change can actually deliver.


Today I read an article about optimising the brains response to change. While interesting, I want to say that it has nothing to do with organisational Change Management.

We must not confuse personal behavioural change with functional corporate Change Management. Doing so adds unnecessary layers of complexity, angst and detracts us from delivering simple, achievable Change Management.

Article excerpt: "Thanks to neuroscience, a field of study that helps us understand how our brain works and the impact of change on its performance, we know today that the brain perceives uncertainty, volatility, ambiguity and unpredictability the same way as it would when it registers a threat of a lion in the savannah. It activates the exact same part of the brain and triggers the same reaction — an acute stress response (aka fight or flight response) as if we were faced with actual life-threatening concern."

No! Just No!

"Hello everyone, We have a new way of logging expenses. You'll no longer have complete a spreadsheet and get it manually signed."

It is in no way like being chased by a sabre tooth tiger.

The article goes on to talk about how our brain protects itself, shuts down to minimise threats and preserve energy. Stating..

"We cannot make any sustainable changes without changing our brain neuropathways." I've had my fair share of coaching and therapy. I agree that fundamental personal behavioural changes, (like resisting punching your ex-husband or finding the answer to problems in a glass of sauvignon blanc), do require neuro re-programming. But this is not part of organisational change and Change Managers are not qualified to deliver it. PROSCI is a three-day residential course in Kiama. Neuropsychologists train for about eight years. Let's not get our skillsets muddled up.

You come to work, agree to perform certain tasks, and within reason, if those tasks change, you perform different tasks, or the same tasks differently.

As change managers, we can make use of some insights on how the brain works and weave those into communications and training. So what can we do?

  • We can provide employees with tools. Equip them to have conversations with demanding customers, to respond differently to conflict, to greet a customer individually.

  • We can accommodate different learning styles. Introduce blended learning, bite-size training flipped classrooms etc.

  • We can listen to people. Understand any resistance or obstacles to the change and ensure we are delivering the change in the best way for them and encourage them to talk to their managers or take responsibility for personal development in some areas, like time management.

  • We can do our job. We ensure people know what is happening when it is happening, what they need to do and where they can get help. And we identify any significant obstacles in our delivery.

What can't we do?

We can't fix deep fears, imbedded in someone's psyche. If someone is petrified of presenting, lacks the confidence to be assertive or is inherently lazy or cynical, you cannot fix this delivering Change Management. This requires individual therapy, coaching, or at the very least, a series of targeted workshops. It's useful if you're aware of it and it's in your plan. "

Nancy will need some additional coaching to overcome her fear of presenting." "We will need to select positive change ambassadors to champion our message before the naysayers get a chance to start the negative water-cooler talk."

Understanding our brains work is highly valuable. Change Managers with psychology degrees will definitely have tools and insights that will add considerable value. But as effective Change Managers, we must focus on the best functional delivery of a change throughout an organisation. As a Change Manager, and a human being, I'm always available for a coffee and a chat. But, if you feel the need to share that you can't move to Office 365 because your father didn't understand you, then I don't think catching up with me over a skinny latte will suffice and I'll give you my friend's business card.

As always I'm interested in what you think? Agree, disagree? Please share and have great discussions with smart people who challenge your thinking. Are all Change Managers "good with people"​. How "good with people"​ are we really expected to be? Research suggests embracing change involves complex psychological change. Do you agree or should employees simply suck it up and get on with it. Read more and find out what I think? I'd love to have your comments too. hashtag#changemanager hashtag#changeblogger hashtag#changemanagement hashtag#ADKAR hashtag#procsi hashtag#MLC hashtag#TheStar hashtag#CMI hashtag#changemanagementinstitute hashtag#sydney hashtag#forbes

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