change-fig1 Potential for change

The public sector is facing huge challenges that mean radical change. Just like the commercial world, the key to success is people. But what does it take to turn ‘people’ potential into capability?
We were delighted that over 120 people attended our Masterclass ‘People Perspectives on Change’ at the November Public Service Conference, at the Barbican. The Masterclass received excellent feedback but the real interest for us was speaking to delegates one-to-one during the day.

What impressed us right away was the honest appraisal delegates gave of what individuals were tackling and their evident understanding of the challenge involved. These were people with good understanding and the potential to deal with the huge issues of change they faced. Unprompted, almost all cited the people aspects of change as being the toughest.

The next thing that struck us was just how complex the process of change is in many cases: multiple stakeholder relationships to manage, bureaucratic processes to negotiate and ‘often changing’ priorities. Yet the people we met were not, for the most part, giving up or going under; they were pressing on and looking for answers.

Our conclusion, from the conference, was that here are some impressive and dedicated people, far from the ‘second-class’ stereotype sometimes portrayed in the media.

Nonetheless, the fact that the biggest theme in the conference – in formal presentations as well as informal conversations – was the people aspect of change shows there is something to tackle! In most conversations we had this was all about emotions: perceptions, reactions, frustrations, anger: it was clear that this was the fundamental challenge with which to engage.
Perhaps this is why people so immediately identify with the Transition Change Curve (see Fig. 1) that takes effect whenever we experience a significant change. It explains why certain feelings kick in. Even when our minds have made the transition, we can still be feeling frustration, anger, rage and despair and have no idea what to do with it.

We heard many stories, on the day, from people experiencing multiple ‘change on change’ – no chance to find ‘integration’ before ‘immobilisation’ over the next change.

Having worked with organisations in change for over 20 years, these observations are of course not new. In our experience we see leadership capability as the critical factor in successful change. This is true for both those leading the change and those executing it.

Straightforward frameworks for how to engage with your people can transform feelings and, flowing from that, performance. Learning to articulate a compelling vision of the future in an authentic voice provides the direction people need. Listening and coaching skills can enable people to express and then leave behind feelings that will otherwise get in the way and frustrate performance. Time invested with leaders in developing or enhancing such capability always pays dividends.

Delivery of successful organisation-wide change begins with an awareness of the need to engage people. There may be strategic ‘picks’ to be made in terms of emphasis, speed, where to pilot change and where to intervene: all demand
that change leaders have the skills to engage
Director’s Retreat
If you are leading an area undergoing major change, this could provide you with the space to think, gain support, challenge ideas from peers and benefit from the DDA Consulting approach to leading an enterprise. A 24-hour event, from 1600 to 1600hrs, composed of leaders with overall responsibility for departments or business units with significant budget/ turnover.

Change Teams
If you are involved in changes that could benefit from greater engagement and want to consider training your own ‘change team’.

Contact us here
people rapidly. In response to this need, DDA Consulting trains ‘change teams’ composed of people at every level in the organisation. These teams act as change agents and facilitators. Such an approach means that the organisation also builds future capability for the ‘next change’ and can be integrated with talent development programmes.

All these things are possible and can ensure the effectiveness of major change.

Our stance, at DDA Consulting, is that people and how they engage with the change are central to the success of any major change initiative. How they come to understand the need for change, what it means to them and what they feel about it all need careful attention. ‘Enabling leadership’ in a major change requires straightforward skills, practised and honed through committed application. Exercising these skills appropriately can deliver the ‘extraordinary’ over and over again.

DOWNLOADS Available:

acrobat-icon This article as PDF

acrobat-icon Public Change Leaflet 

Pera Business Park, Nottingham Road, Melton Mowbray. LE13 0PB United Kingdom

Telephone +44 (0)1664 503695  Contact us: here

Copyright 2011-2014 Public Sector Change.