Photo by Simon Migaj

In our previous, introductory, discussion on the practitioner’s journey, we came to an important conclusion; we need to engage leaders more, by showing and sharing the output of research and the analysis we undertake of the environment in which their projects of change run. Underlying this is a critical issue emerging these days is something fundamental to practitioner success; trust. We cannot hope to engage leaders without trust. As we know, we build trust by leveraging a few key components; credibility, reliability, intimacy and self-orientation, to quote @Trustedadvisor. We shall revisit these aptitudes in future parts, but initially let’s explore what concerns our stakeholders the most to attain credibility.

The Change practitioner’s start

Most change practitioners learn and practice their profession in part-time mode. The latest best practice research conducted by Prosci (2020) shows that we still barely attain 2/3 of projects with dedicated resources and less than half of all projects have sufficient change management resources. So, it’s almost normal to be spread thinly and overcommitted. Given this constraint, we should execute the actions that make the most significant difference.

The most significant activities

A critically important task a change practitioner should execute is establishing and clarifying what constitutes success in a project. Based on our observation of practitioners initiating their journey through a project, usually, they cannot clearly articulate what success will look like at the end of the project. This inability is not due to carelessness but often from those mandating and planning the project being vague on the expected/desired organisational benefits. So, we should actively seek to clarify the features of success. Prosci’s research indicates three more activities are essential;

  • Develop a communication system that will support the project; including considering channels and frequency, feedback mechanisms, levels etc.
  • Analyse and assess stakeholders for impact and readiness; ensuring an understanding of who matters, how should they change and what are their barriers to adoption (we use ADKAR® to achieve this)
  • Leverage worldwide experience to inform the best governance, application of method and leader coalition to support the project

While change practitioners execute these actions, leaders have to play their role; building trust in their people while supporting their adoption and execution of their changes.

A message for us leaders

For all leaders, especially business leaders, society places more trust in us than other role players, like media and government. We can fill the gaps in trust that have developed by providing the vision of the change and (to paraphrase Ralph Mathegka in a recent webinar on trust) go beyond the business relationship (employee/client etc.) to a personal one that understands the environment in which they operate.

Key takeouts

  • The practitioner’s mission goes beyond earning a good salary; they should associate with leaders, companies and providers who also focus on their societal purpose
  • At the beginning of their journey change practitioners should focus on critical actions that build their credibility
  • Leaders face a tough transformation as they play their role in change

Edelman. (2021). 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Prosci. (2020). Best Practices in Change Management – 11th Edition.