I recently sat in a networking event listening to a speaker talking about how to implement successful change within an organisation. His proposition was that the process is simple, all you need to do is follow the correct steps. All good so far but it was the same message that I have been hearing for 30 years.
If it is a simple process why have we seemingly made so little progress?
In my early days as an HR professional I was filled with so much optimism and belief that change would be introduced and maintained. I was confident that the leadership teams would do what was needed to help us move forward and they would help the rest of us by providing the tools, resources and support to succeed. This optimism was frequently challenged when, almost without exception, the leadership did not follow things through. When things got tough they looked for an off-the-shelf fix, a ‘magic wand’ to fix everything, and they looked for everyone else to change. Ultimately nothing actually got better.
Today it seems everyone is still looking for a simple, painless and effortless quick fix and in doing so miss the whole point. It is not the end destination that is ultimately the prize because in reality there is no end point, but a continuing journey. It is the journey itself that is fundamentally important.
It is only by embracing the process as having value in itself, being ready for the challenges that it brings and genuinely being ready to change on a personal level that we as individuals can start on the journey to successful change. We are then in a position to take that experience forward into the organisation, leading by example. It is only this that will ensure that change is successful and sustained.
It is seldom articulated and rarely understood that change takes a huge amount of personal courage, resilience and energy. It is anything but easy, but if you have that courage then the rewards are significant and wide-ranging. I have had the privilege of working with people who have struggled with these challenges but who have had the commitment and tenacity to see them through and in doing so have achieved astonishing things, professionally and personally. It has been truly transformational.
So what is it that gives that courage, that tenacity? What is it that makes you keep going when things get difficult? It has to be that you have a passionate and deeply held conviction that it is worthwhile, that the desired goals are worth the pain and the effort.
Once you have embraced the journey and accepted the challenges it becomes exciting, energising and positive.
What also helps is to use the best resources and support available – advice, expertise and challenge are critical. Don’t assume you have all the answers, you may not even know what the right questions are. Be open to the process. Accept the painful bits need to be worked through. The results will be worth it and you may even come to enjoy it!
The reality is, regardless of which process you take off the shelf and deploy, change it is tough, but it’s worth it!