Saturday, May 3, 2014

Is “Pseudo-Involvement” the Pitfall of Change Management

Change Management is both Art and Science.

About two third of change management efforts fail to achieve the expected result, the causes may vary, is “pseudo-involvement” one of the pitfalls in change management, though ‘pseudo’ is ambiguous itself, it implies different situations in either reasonable or negative way. 

"Pseudo-involvement" is a pretense of engagement: Although it may have short-lived positive impacts, over the long run this pseudo-involvement fails to engage employees and overcome resistance. However, genuine respect for those who question change for the "right reasons" is an effective approach and is needed to help managers and employees get on board.

There are multi-dimensional ways to look at “pseudo”:  First, rather than a "zero-one" dichotomous condition, perhaps there is a dimension of "information involvement", where on one end, the participants only receive information; on the other end, they have a significant influence on decisions and execution of change. For example, if leaders are genuinely open to input, social media, and workshops are more than "pseudo" involvement. Secondly, maybe the word "pseudo" has the connotation of negative meaning such as "phony," "false," and "manipulative." The "button" that gets pushed is that leaders often assume they can pretend to involve people but actually do not intend to pay attention to their input at all. On the other hand,  the actual situation may, in fact, support genuine involvement. It depends on the intentions and behaviors of leaders and participants.

Take the two-way communication: Communication during a change initiative must go two ways. Too often organizations do a great job of sending out their message that supports the change yet they fail to ever take in any feedback, though. Make exploration upon change with the step-wise approach: (1) People may not care what you want until they understand WHY. To overcome indifference, clarify: "Why should this be considered now?" (2) To get action, clarify: "What if nothing is done?" (3) To win support for your ideas, reduce the risk for the decision maker. Respect is realized in the efforts and hard work made in this, despite knowing the impossibility of real involvement of all.

Deal with ONR: Without practiced responses to legitimate instances of objections, negativity or resistance (ONR), responses to it will in likelihood be inconsistent, contradictory and sometimes even counterproductive. ONR, when not addressed or negated; can fester and permanently poison the culture of the change initiative and thereby lower the likelihood of its successful implementation. Realistically, not all instances of ONR are of equal importance or validity. ONR issues are commonly, but by no means exclusively, raised on the basis of perception rather than fact, thereby making them subjective. However, for the perceiver, perception is often 'fact.'  Although you may reasonably choose to prioritize certain ONR issues over others, be aware people feel particularly peeved when they get the message that what they have to say is irrelevant or unimportant.  Ultimately, the management of ONR is a critical component of change management.

To overcome "NO," EMPHASIZE the benefits: The resistance that delays more than anticipated often comes from these areas of the organization where employees were informed rather than involved. Applying social media, or other more direct interactive communication tools like workshops etc., will give people a chance to be heard or feel involved. The receiver of the information experiences involvement during the process of communication and interaction, but actually is only informed in the stage of change development planning. It is unrealistic in most organizations to involve everybody in the development of the change process, but such "pseudo-involvement" may reduce resistance. 

The goal of change management is to transform staff emotion from pseudo to enthusiastic, and move from Denials-to>-Resistence-to >-Exploration-to >-Commitment. And change management has to walk hand-in-hand with either project management, innovation management, or risk management in order to achieve high-performance business results.


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