While comprehensive change management programmes remain the order of the day when it comes to implementing change in the workplace, in my experience these are usually replete with examples of individuals confused or even lost in spite of the persuasive skills of the leaders and champions of the change.
I recall one conversation with a senior manager who rather plaintively said, “I was so enthusiastic about the change. It all made such sense – still does. I’ve even rallied my team behind what we are trying to achieve. And now I’m not so sure. Is this ‘buyer’ remorse’?”
The views expressed by my client are typical of those who had embraced the organisational change and yet were unable to come to terms with the personal adjustments required. The prevailing wisdom is to coach the individual. However, the best of counsellors were unable to satisfy an otherwise solid top performer.
It turns out that in many of these cases, to provide more justification for the change was just futile. The challenge was to be found at the level of values that the change had subconsciously violated in the mind of the individual (which Kegan refers to as Immunity to Change).
What in fact was necessary was a transformation, a deep inner process to change an individual context (worldview), rather than to merely commit to new organisational artifacts.
I have found that given the increasing number of initiatives to change the organisational culture, there is a rise in more examples of these situations. To glibly declare the company to be “customer-centric” is not only misleading but even dangerous as it introduces a risk of failure that is often not even recognised.
Challenging deeply held values cannot simply be countered by “whipping up the crowd”. Rather, it calls for a transformation process that allows individuals to examine the implications of the change at a very personal level.
A growing body of knowledge and practice in the neurosciences offers a powerful additional way (catalyst) of altering worldviews by both providing the facilitator with insights into the neural processes needed to bring about the change which the individual can also make use of as he/she chooses to embark on this journey.
Finding the most effective process to achieve an effective transformation for any particular group will always test the knowledge, experience and skills of even the most accomplished of facilitators. It is an undertaking never to be taken lightly.