Change management within a company can happen for a wide range of reasons, some of the most common being increased competition, changes in technology or other systems, fluctuating customer demand, changes or substitutes in company offerings, mergers and acquisitions, leadership changes, and regulatory or legislative changes. As markets, technology, the economy, and consumer demands change, it’s vital for businesses to remain equally dynamic.
While staying ahead of the curve can be a complex and multi-layered feat, two things are certain: the moving needle will never rest, and every thriving business and organization must continuously evolve and change to meet new needs and remain competitive in their respective industries.
The ongoing phenomenon of the need for change management doesn’t only touch the executives and shareholders of a company. One way or another, nearly every employee at every level will be affected by change management. Whether it’s a change in day-to-day priorities, a rise in the sense of urgency to deliver, organizational changes within the hierarchy of a company, or having to learn new processes, systems and skills, there is a personal level to change management.
Company Change Management: A Brief Overview
In 2012, professor, author, and corporate change management expert John Kotter published The Heart of Change, in which he lays out the following seven key elements of change management for companies that remain true today:
- Increase Urgency
- Build the Guiding Team
- Get the Vision Right
- Communicate for Buy-In
- Create Short Term Wins
- Don’t Let Up
- Make Change Stick
Personal Change Management
One of the most emergent themes for company change management is the challenge it presents to individual professionals. For example, many older executive and non-executive employees (even if they have decades of experience under their belts) may suddenly need to catch up with certain types of technology and processes that don’t come naturally to them right away.
Many of our senior-level career management clients have expressed concern that regardless of their long experience in leadership positions, they’re now struggling to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world.
In light of this trend, we recommend that anyone feeling this kind of pressure create and execute a Personal Change Management Plan proactively – say, before their next review, promotion discussion, or entry into a career or company. This way, when being assessed and critiqued for their skills and opportunities for improvement, they’ll have more up-to-date assets to bring to the table than deficits.
At Blue Labrador, we’ve created a personal change management program with seven steps:
Decide you need to update your skill set.
There is no shame in admitting to yourself that you might not have kept up with the most recent developments in technology related to your field. If you want to stay relevant in an ever-changing environment, now is the time to start working on this.
Find a career consultant who can coach you through this process.
Find a qualified career consultant or career coach with in-depth knowledge about your field. This person should be able to tell you what skills the best of the best professionals in your field have now, and what skills may be anticipated to grow in importance in the future.
Work with your career coach to determine which skills need improvement.
You may need to address a list of skills – and that’s OK! With a qualified career coach to help you sort through your concerns and goals, you can take it one step at a time. Choose an area, skill, technology, and start growing your skill set piece by piece. Even if you haven’t conquered every item on your list of skills to improve, showing that you’re actively working on yourself will speak volumes to hiring managers and recruiters.
Tap into your industry for targeted training resources.
Look for training and mentorship anywhere you can find it. If there’s a younger employee who is much more tech savvy than you, see what you can learn from them. Look for online courses or programs you can take. Look for certifications you can earn during your downtime. Use whatever is available and right for you.
Follow through with the training.
Now that you have your plan, commit to it and remain disciplined and diligent. Stay accountable to yourself and anyone else you’ve involved in your personal growth plan – including your career consultant.
Put your new skills and competencies into action.
Exercise your new skills and assess them regularly. Note any areas where you’re still struggling, and keep tweaking your program to learn more and improve as you go. The key is to keep looking for new areas of development.
Keep applying your new skills and assessing your progress with your coach.
As you use your new skills, collaborate with your career coach to discuss your progress and opportunities for further career growth. Personal change management isn’t meant to be a one-time fix – it’s an ongoing, thoughtful process. Stay honest with yourself and always be thinking of how you can take your abilities to the next level. If you decide you need supplemental training, seek it.
Continue this process as you work on improving your skills. The key is to remain open to constant growth and to welcome new challenges and change.
The expert career consultants at Blue Labrador can work with you to design a personal change management plan tailored to your specific needs and goals. Call us today to get started!