“Change management in the workplace is the leading factor in supporting people through adoption and engagement while change occurs and is undertaken. Change management is a set of steps that are followed on a particular project or initiative. It really is a three-pronged approach: people need to understand the change, buy into the change, and then have the change reinforced to actually change behaviour.”
Maria Artuso MBA(FS) 2015, Community Manager at RBC Royal Bank
Managing through change has become the new norm. As a leader, it is important to understand a number of parameters, including why change is occurring at such an extreme pace, how individuals feel about the change and how they cope with the change. Change at this point is inevitable. Gone are the days where we reminisce about how things were done years ago. Some individuals thrive in an agile environment, where change can be viewed as exhilarating and super exciting, and personally challenging. Others struggle with the reality that the constant is change, not being able to stay put, and always needing to reinvent themselves and learn new things.
I have been working in the financial services industry for the past 21 years, and have had the privilege of working with leaders who have been phenomenal in terms of working through change, and being respectful of how people will adapt, endure, and overcome the constant of change. When I first started in the industry, I was in my late teens and found it very interesting how some colleagues would say “this is the way we do it here”; “we’ve done it like this for years”; “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”. I remember being taken aback at how it felt to be working within an inflexible and policy-stricken working environment.
In school and at home, my generation was encouraged to “shoot for the stars”; “you can be whatever you put your mind to”; “don’t ever settle for second best”. What I was learning in school and experiencing at work was quite different. What I did not realize or really endorse at the time was that while change management is not an easy philosophy, it is a critical component of organizational transformation. How employees respond to change, let alone, how they overcome this new norm, is vitally important to the viability and sustainability of an organization’s success. Both the leader and employee play extremely important roles.
As I continued to work in the banking industry, and furthered my education, it became clearer to me that how people felt within the working world was very different than in the educational system. I began to think about how great the workplace could be and would be if we continued to push the envelope, consider everyone’s thoughts and opinions vs. just those of the loudest contributors. We could never rest on our laurels.
Change management in the workplace is the leading factor in supporting people through adoption and engagement while change occurs and is undertaken. Change management is a set of steps that are followed on a particular project or initiative. It really is a three-pronged approach: people need to understand the change, buy into the change, and then have the change reinforced to change behaviour. Change management matters. It needs to occur one person at a time. Change can be very costly if managed improperly. The good news is that effective management of change increases success overall.
As a new leader, I learned about ADKAR, a model used to understand how people process change: Awareness of the need for change, Desire to participate in and support the change, Knowledge on how to change, Ability to implement required skills and behaviours, and Reinforcement to sustain the change. The truth is, leading employees through organizational change, whether big or small, requires empathy, trust, care, and a growth mindset in order to move forward. Organizations cannot change their culture unless individual employees change their behavior—and changing behavior is not easy; it is actually hard.
Sometimes a leader’s admission of vulnerability helps others recognize and address their ability to process change. You cannot force people to change – you can only help them want to. It is so important for people to understand the why behind the change, the impact it will have on them, and what’s important them. It is vital to acknowledge that there are opportunities for individuals to provide input and feedback. This will empower individuals to buy-in and feel good about their contribution to the change. In so doing, leaders generate a winning culture by engaging and exciting the people responsible for delivering change. It is important to celebrate successes and quick wins and generously and publicly acknowledge those who demonstrate the leadership behaviours that make a strategy succeed. Asking team members to share their experiences will encourage the growth mindset required to ensure that change continues to take place at a pace that is commendable in our organizations.
I truly believe that the behaviours of change of management will allow us to never be stuck in old ways. Instead, it will create a flexible and agile collaborative team capable of pivoting in a timely manner, generating the environment where great things will happen because we allowed ourselves to try something new.
Maria Artuso MBA(FS) 2015, Community Manager at RBC Royal Bank, was recently named one of Ottawa’s Top 40 under 40 business professionals. A successful, highly motivated business leader with a track record of success in the fields of operational effectiveness, retail banking, commercial banking, and leadership, Maria is dedicated to giving back to her community, believing that her volunteerism enhances her job performance and life experiences. Maria has graciously agreed to be a repeat contributor on CEGE Connection.