BDG architecture + design

Scared of Change

Words by Andy Swann, Illustration by Miguel Montaner

Change is a scary word. It means things aren’t staying the same.

Traditionally, we see change as a move from A to B, with the aim being to get from one to the other. In our workplaces, we tell the people what is happening and why, training them as necessary. But we need to do more!

Workplace change can affect our people, their working environment and the way they work. It all creates impact on a personal level.

Every change project is part of a wider organisational evolution. We need to keep this bigger picture in mind when addressing transition and transformation, so we can connect people with their work and workplace – not just tell them what we expect to happen. 

The success of any change rests on creating a genuine connection between people and the transition. Fail to create that connection and the change project is at best likely to fall short, at worst fail. Most sources agree that around two thirds of change projects fail to meet their objectives, which means that most traditional change management approaches are missing the mark somewhere.

As humans, we connect with our work and workplace in very specific ways, individually and collectively. Change alters that connection. Dealing with that requires space and exploration.

To avoid productivity and morale dips, while harnessing the benefits of an investment in change, it needs to be approached more creatively - in a more human way. Connect people directly with change, don’t just tell them about it!

Successful change management comes from so many places. It’s an adaptive, context-specific thing, not something that can be taught as a procedure. Look on change as a transition – helping people to move from one set of circumstances to another.

Successful transition management is a combination of psychology, creativity, communication, exploration and anything else that may be appropriate to creating that effective connection between people and change. It should always come from a positive place too and support those affected to examine, understand, imagine and own the transition.

Wherever change happens, there will always be some trepidation, even where people know the outcomes will be positive. Maximise the benefits and minimise the pitfalls with a carefully planned transition programme, just for your organisation.