Adapting to new ways of living and working is never easy. Each of us deals with stages of change (denial, resistance, exploration, and commitment) differently. Each of us feels different emotions throughout the process, such as shock, anger, depression, and acceptance. This pandemic taught us all many things, regardless of our job, title, or location. But key among them, we learned and developed the skill called “change management” and ultimately became our own “change managers.”

Change management moved away from being annoying corporate jargon and created a life of its own. Change is now “business as usual”; organizations require and demand change management skills for their business transformation. Any transformation that fails to humanize change will not achieve a return on investment and will likely suffer when it comes to achieving seeing results on the bottom line.

According to research, transformation initiatives fail due to change resistance, resulting in lost business, extra costs, unhappy customers, and dissatisfied employees.

So why is it so hard to embrace change? This is a hot topic at the moment, and the answers vary for each company, department, and individual within the same organization. Let’s demystify change management by looking at its definition. According to the Cambridge dictionary: “Change is to make or become different. Management is the control and organization of something. Change management is organizing and controlling or making something different. It is planning and introducing new ways of working in an organization.”

There are many recognized methods and processes for change management, such as Prosci, Kotter, McKinsey, and Lewin, among others. Regardless of the methodology, the success of change management depends on effective communication and the involvement of employees and management teams. Without buy-in and ownership, change management remains a desktop exercise comprised of fancy jargon in the corporate literature. I have been part of countless transformations where I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly examples of change management practices and the direct impact on the company’s business results.

I can distinctly recall a prime example of great change management. A company I worked for had decided to replace its 20-plus-year-old legacy operations management system with a well-known global ERP solution. With a legacy system entrenched in the company, the team was highly familiar with the old manner of doing things and thoroughly set in their ways. This means the ERP solution would be a major change for the whole organization in terms of the way they work, collaborate, and manage the organizational structure and company culture. Immediately following the project kick-off and until the final implementation, the change was managed smoothly, and the whole company started to work using the new ERP system. There was minimal business disruption and no major resistance or negativity from the teams. The project was implemented on time and in full

In a nutshell, change is an inevitable factor for every organization, individual, or family. Every organization, from small and mid-sized companies to massive corporations, MUST engage with change to grow and remain competitive. How we embrace and manage change is key to achieving our goals, be it in personal success, business growth, or enterprise profitability. To me, empathy and open communication are at the heart of the change management journey and critical to its success.