Mika Paalanne: The people implementing changes need support too

Everyone needs support in times of change. In our personal life, we typically seek out help from our friends, family or professionals. At the workplace, we turn to colleagues, a team leader or the people who are experts in implementing changes.

Many organizations have understood how important it is to support the people impacted by changes. Last year as I worked in various change projects I noticed that it was the people driving the changes in organizations who are particularly in need of support. The people in these roles may be change agents, key users, supervisors or project managers. Even though these people have a crucial role in the success of the change, the support they receive may still be lacking.

The people implementing changes need an opportunity to develop the necessary competences

Changes in organizations or workplaces are often set in motion by a small group of people. Once the change vision has been defined (read Pauliina Juhola’s excellent piece on this here), more people are needed to carry the message forward. It is important to have a discussion with them about what their role means and what the key targets of the change are. Above all, it is essential together figure out what kind of support they need and then offer them the opportunity to develop the necessary competences. Training in change capability can increase this know-how, boost confidence in succeeding in the task, and offer concrete tools for various change situations.

The people implementing changes must travel their own change journey

Before one can credibly explain the change story with a positive attitude, he/she must find a personal meaning for the story. The people implementing the change must be able to advance on their own change journey and review the issues they find concerning. Support from colleagues is important here. In fact, it is very important to give the individuals an opportunity for candid discussions with each other, allowing them to share challenges, good experiences, feelings and ideas. This also helps to preserve a good energy level and volition. My colleague Katri Ranta has written about this in a blog.

The people implementing changes must be supported throughout the project

It is very common that as the change project progresses, the people who are implementing it feel that they have been left alone. Support can come from supervisors, the project office, project management and change management professionals.

The supervisor must understand the goals, support the achievement of them, and ensure that enough time is allocated to carrying out the task. The project must offer the appropriate materials for the different target groups. Visible support from management and communications are also prerequisites for success. Additionally, a series of workshops could be held, with change management professionals bringing concrete tools to tackle the practical challenges that are encountered. The goal is that the people implementing changes are confident, competent and motivated.

Supporting the people who implement changes increases the probability of a successful project. In addition, it increases the change capability of the employees and the organization as well as their own ability to implement the changes in coming years.

Do you think enough support is given to the people who implement changes in your organization?