The Next Major Trends in Change Management
Article written by Valérie-Kim Besner
Executive Director – Client Partner
On November 15th, I had the opportunity to speak at the conference “Effective Communications to Overcome Resistance and Improve Engagement,” organized by Les Affaires. My intervention focused specifically on the major trends in change management. In other words, those that should not be overlooked for a successful and sustainable transformation! Change management is a dynamic discipline, and trends and innovations in this field are numerous. Below, I discuss the 3 essential trends and provide some keys to better approach them.
1. Democratization of Change Management Responsibilities
Given that leadership engagement is crucial for the success of change in a company, why do only 15% of managers feel adequately equipped to play their role in change in 2023? This is the dichotomy between the current situation and the optimal situation. For a long time, change management efforts were focused on the project team and senior management. However, change management is primarily a matter of proximity! Individuals undergoing transformation now more than ever want to learn and experience change with their immediate managers and with team members who have influence on them (e.g., change agents, HR or communications business partners, representatives from labor relations committees and unions). Making these individuals key players in change management is essential to mobilize all affected groups. However, be cautious not to ask managers to take on this crucial role without preparing them and providing them with the necessary means. Supporting managers, equipping them, giving them leeway, and coaching them are basic prerequisites to make them change management experts! Change management is an ecosystem that surrounds not only a project but also a way of life in a company. It is therefore democratized and makes sense only if it involves everyone!
2. Approaches Increasingly Focused on Humans, with an Emphasis on Individuality
Expectations towards change management specialists have evolved significantly in recent years. From simply communicating about change to prepare employees, we have moved on to making change acceptable, then to fostering commitment to that change. Today, it is about creating a positive change experience for the affected individuals. So, how do you successfully meet this challenge? By not neglecting any aspects of the employee experience. This experiential and employee-centric strategy allows impacted individuals to feel heard and valued, making them more inclined to take initiatives and experiment. Change, whether related to processes, tools, culture, or structure, represents an opportunity to go further, learn new techniques and knowledge, participate in something greater than their job, rally towards a common goal, exceed individual and team limits, celebrate success, etc. Change then becomes a mobilizer and an engine of engagement.
3. Change Management as an Element of Organizational Culture
This trend emphasizes the importance for companies to gain flexibility and efficiency in the face of constant changes in the environment, thanks to an organizational culture that fully integrates change management principles and values. Integrating change management into the organizational culture takes time and requires long-term commitment, but it is essential to create a resilient and adaptive organization in a constantly changing world. Concretely, this involves engaged leadership actively supporting change management initiatives, and open and transparent communication becoming the norm. It also involves training and development so that everyone understands the basic principles of change management and develops the skills required by the changes. Ensure that the organization’s values include flexibility, adaptability, and innovation. Thus, change management will not be perceived as a one-time project but as a way for the organization to operate continuously. The organization’s environment is constantly evolving, and the organization has what it takes to adapt to it! Dedicate a structure within the organization that focuses on change management, such as a center of expertise, is an excellent way to support transformation projects.
Turning Change into an Opportunity
In conclusion, to effectively manage change, I recommend that companies strengthen their change management skills. They should make the necessary efforts to anticipate concerns and impacts of the impending change and ultimately implement actions to make the change project appealing. In other words, it is essential to have enthusiastic and competent leaders in change, well-equipped to address concerns and impacts, and capable of mobilizing and engaging employees in the transformation adventure.