Buzzwords: ‘change management’

Posted January 17, 2014, by Marni Williams

Have you ever experienced effective change management? If you’re shrugging your shoulders right now then you might actually be one of the lucky ones who have.

Change management describes the process when internal human resources managers, company management, or consultants are engaged to make major changes to how a company, and its staff, operate. If you’ve been through a major restructure, if you’ve had to learn new systems or adopt new technologies that have changed the way your job works, then this phrase could actually be much more than mere jargon to you.

Change managers diagnose the change and its implications, anticipate the impact of a proposed change on staff, and implement a strategic plan to ensure that the change comes to pass smoothly and with as much staff support as possible. They then monitor progress and report back to management.

The history of change management goes back as far as the 1980s with early leaders AT&T and Ford finding new ways to create efficiency in their workforces. It moved from the domain of consultants in the 1990s into the mainstream with the new millennium. Fast-forward to today’s business world and it is often said that the only constant in business is change!

With the prescriptive influence that big data is set to have over many businesses, this particular piece of jargon, and the approach it describes, seems here to stay. If a recruiter is asking you of your experience surrounding change management then they may want to see how adaptable you are. Employers of all kinds are looking for employees who display the capacity for change, as Jane McNeill, Director of Hays in New South Wales describes:

‘Globalisation, the shift towards a knowledge economy and the sheer pace of technological changes are among the factors radically shifting how organisations operate. This places a premium on an employee’s ability to learn and respond to their employer’s and the market’s changing demands.’

Change managers often classify staff members as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards, depending on how they cope with change. So if you’ve been invited to take part in a change management process in the past then this suggests that you might have been considered as a leader or early adopter.

Even if you’ve never encountered change management and, frankly, the concept makes your hair stand on end, you should consider that adapting quickest is often the way for companies to achieve bigger market share. If you can display openness to change, and an appreciation of the need for consultation and strategic communication in achieving staff buy-in, then employers may also see you as a sensitive operator and valuable team member. Whatever end of change you find yourself on, it really is as the motivational posters say: change is a process, not an event. So next time you encounter a change manager just go with the flow and be sure to make Charles Darwin proud.

Have you ever been ‘change managed?’ Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

If change is in the air it might be time to consider whether you’re on board. If you’re not, you can take some change into your own hands by re-skilling with one of our online courses.

Marni Williams

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