Remember the good old Hindi proverb "Sau sunar ki, ek luhar ki" (a hundred hits from a goldsmith are equal to that of one from an ironsmith) translated for usage as a "hundred hits from a weak adversary is less effective than one from a strong adversary."
I believe that in change management …. the slow path, a hundred small hits are better than one strong/ hard hit.
People take time to change and adapt …. repetitive small hits are better.
Change management should be done as a goldsmith.
Ever see a goldsmith working, notice how the heat is gentle, yet persistent, the knocks from the small hammer are precise, gentle and repetitive. Eventually the shape emerges, which is beautiful, useful, fitting and lasting.
Most businesses today, take their people as their primary asset … can we call them gold? … and when dealing with gold, it is better to make many small hits, so that it doesn't break or go completely out of shape, but changes shape to adjust to the new environment.
In the VUCA world, change management is a part of leader's role. We are all required to make or lead changes from small to big…some go successful, some not.
The post-mortem reviews of projects, many a time reveal lack of change management as at least one of causes. This may show up as - acceptability issues, inability to use, slow uptake, non-sustained usage, etc.
Here are some best practices for a project manager and leaders.
Know & Involve the impacted parties from day 1 – people those who will implement the change on the ground would be the owners, controllers of the changing process. Almost all practices would talk about involving impacted parties… let's expand on this
- Involve from day 1
- Take feedback continuously
- Get the influencers to join the team, that is creating the new process
- Talk to them as group
- Talk to them 1 to 1 : When talking of course you are there to sell the change…but what's the hurry …. Let the conversation take place…build trust…listen with intent and interest…. And more often than not the person will share their thoughts, what's bothering them about change. Sometimes it would take several small and big conversations before you can convert them
- Listen to them in the creation process…. If you put them off too many times and they are not convinced in the creation process… your change will be doomed before it launched…. Remember the larger team, would ask them "how's the project going" …. imagine their answer & its impact
Explain the why, the vision
Lead by example - use the process, advocate the change
Nudge (not shove) them to move towards the changed process. Keep the gentle heat on.
Lastly, continuing with gold analogy - a well made ornament lasts long .....similarly ...change done well ... lasts long
all the best
This is an edited version of the story published earlier on our blog