Feelings are the key to successful changeOn 6 Apr 2004 in Personnel Today Gordon Brown’s recent announcement that more than 40,000 roles will be cutfrom the Civil Service would seem a classic example of ‘old-style’, autocratic,change management. But how else could it have been done? Successful changeprogrammes are those that help people gain an emotional understanding of howchange will benefit them personally, and encourage them to take both individualand team responsibility for their future. In his book, The Heart of Change, John Kotter describes “a core patternassociated with successful change: See… Feel… Change”. To make changehappen, he argues, organisations must focus on getting people to feeldifferently instead of trying to make them think differently. He cites examples to prove that the key to successful organisational changelies in experiential learning: people must feel change before they can believein it – they must take on board the new reality in tangible, concrete ways.Most organisations rely on simply putting out a lot of information andexpecting employees to see the logic behind the strategy. Organisations, particularly in Western cultures, tend to focus on rationalanalysis when making the case for change, but rational analysis doesn’t excitepeople or motivate them to want to join up to a new cause. People almost alwayschange their behaviour for emotional and intuitive reasons – because theybelieve in something. Tackling restructuring will be a significant challenge for the HR teams atthe Inland Revenue, HM Customs & Excise, and the Department for Work andPensions. Yet it offers a tremendous opportunity for HR to take the lead. Itwill need to pull the best talent from inside and outside the HR function toensure a successful and sustainable transition and avoid creating a feast forconsultants. Efficiency may lead to job cuts, but job cuts don’t necessarily lead toefficiency. Brown’s driver is obviously cost reduction through efficiencysavings, but focusing on headcount reduction is the wrong place for HR tostart. Understanding the future service delivery requirements of each departmentand aligning theses with the organisation’s structure must come first. People make change happen, or they stop it happening. Having made hisannouncement so publicly, Brown has not helped those affected people to enterthe transition in the ideal way. HR needs to act quickly to reposition the workforce and prepare it forchange. Most employees will remain and they will need to feel and see that thefuture state looks like an exciting place to be. Putting highly-experienced managers right at the heart and demonstrating thenew culture through management behaviour will be critical to the CivilService’s future success. By Alan Bailey, head of business process outsourcing Xchanging Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.