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Getting the Rock Home: Thoughts on Change Management
By Kate Current, Director of Employee Benefit Operations

There are so many cliches about change. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” and my personal favorite, “There is nothing permanent except change.” But what is change exactly? Change can be both a different way of doing things (how) and expecting a different outcome (what).

Change is often compared to project management which is “the planning and execution of a particular project.” Some of the important parts of project management include outcomes, measurements or metrics, and the development of a written plan. You can either take time and build the entire plan at the beginning, or you can define your end goal, set milestones, and plan milestone by milestone.

But what if you have direction and no black and white plan? And most importantly, what about the people? True change management hits on the squishy stuff. Here are a few of my favorites:
  1. Teams can lack trust. A symptom of a low-trust environment is when team members don’t openly and honestly communicate with one another. Healthy tension is good for an organization!
  2. Opinions over action. A colleague of mine said “opinions are like bellybuttons; we all have one.” So how as a leader do you motivate team members to act?
  3. Positive feedback. Genuine and regular positive feedback acknowledges a job well done. As leaders, we can put too many items in “expected actions” and not enough in “special actions” and don’t recognize enough of the journey.
Experimentation during change is imperative; so is mistake-making. Leaders who are the most effective captains of change are willing to make decisions, act, admit mistakes and demonstrate vulnerability.

I think often of the years that I walked to and from grade school and high school. I would often find a rock along my way home and start kicking it. Some of the kicks were short and some of the kicks were long and occasionally my rock would fall in the gutter or into someone’s garage. To get the rock home, I had to keep kicking it. If I did nothing the rock wouldn’t move. It’s okay to make mistakes, stub your toe or fish your rock out of a puddle, so long as that rock makes its way home.

To change, you must DO something!


 
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