There’s a famous quote by Grace Hopper, US navy admiral, that says, “You manage things, you lead people.”. While there are different ways you can interpret this short but meaningful message, it can be a great way to explain that leading people through change means empowering them. Now, you might have heard this message echoed before, because the fact that people want to feel engaged in their organization isn’t exactly new information. There are some great thought leaders and organizations that have come to realize the importance of enabling people and the impact it has on change success. But that being said, there’s still a lot of work to be done to help people understand what the term “Change Enablement” really means; and while some are acknowledging its importance, there are still very few people talking about how to actually do it—how to enable change and how to get people to take accountability for their change journey.
The fact of the matter is that you can’t really force people to change, especially in an organizational context; you can only empower and enable them to want to do it. This is where the true value of Change Enablement becomes clear. But before you go any further to learn about how you can enable change, let’s take a moment to look at how Change Enablement all began.
The Evolution of Change Enablement
When dealing with any kind of business transformation, Change Management has been the go-to methodology for change practitioners. But times have changed, and while these tried-and-true Change Management frameworks are still relevant, they have not evolved to consider the changes in today’s workplace culture. The catalyst to Change Enablement’s inception all started when we realized two very important things:
More focus is given to the technical side of change than the people side of change. The bottom line is that we need to consider both.
Traditional Change Management methodologies focus primarily on leaders and often forget about middle managers and individual contributors. It’s crucial that knowledge, training, and support is provided to everyone who is impacted across the organization to truly operationalize the change.
When it comes to realizing the business benefits of any organizational change, it all relies on whether your people have adopted the change or not, and whether they’re able to sustain it long-term. For example, you can implement the best, most robust technology at your organization, but if your people aren’t using it because they either don’t care (they’re not empowered) or simply because they don’t know how (they’re not enabled), you won’t see the desired results you were hoping for.
Change Enablement is not meant to replace traditional Change Management—it’s meant to provide organizations with a more practical approach to supporting people through change; an approach informed by a deeper understanding of how humans actually respond to change. Rather than telling people what to do, Change Enablement gives people the tools to champion their own journey. An enablement approach engages people throughout a business transformation and fills the gaps in understanding so individuals can make their own choices about change.
So now that you know the basics of how Change Enablement came to be, how can you start practicing it at your organization? We recommend that you start your journey by understanding what a picture of a great Change Enabler looks like. Let’s explore some of the key qualities together.
Great Change Enablers are…
They are diligent about communicating the change to the people impacted (i.e., what’s happening, why is it necessary, and what’s in it for them).
They communicate the benefits of the change to increase buy-in and get people on board.
Change Enablers also listen to their peers’ concerns and act as a line of communication between the people and the project.
2. Emotionally Intelligent
They understand how and why people may react differently to change, whether it be positively or negatively.
While emotional intelligence may sound like an intuitive trait, it can be learned and improved upon; it is a necessary part of understanding people’s needs and feelings throughout this process.
3. Personally Accountable
Change Enablers take accountability—as the point of contact between the people and the project.
But they also give accountability back to the people by providing the skills and knowledge they need to accept and implement the change themselves.
4. Leaders Without Title
Change Enablers don’t need to be official people managers to lead change.
Change starts from the middle and is led from the top. They are considerate of the fact that change still happens at the individual level and support people with their wellbeing in mind.
5. Able to Manage Conflict
Change Enablers are able to predict issues and conflicts before they appear, and use all the above skills to navigate conflict when it does arise.
They use their communication skills to understand any issues and come to a reasonable solution, wherever possible.
Practicing these traits is a great starting point for learning the fundamentals of becoming a Change Enabler. You will find that a lot of the work you do to become one is about helping others—acting as a guide that provides people with knowledge and advice about change. John Maxwell says it best when he explains the concept of “servant leadership”:
“When you decide to serve others as a leader, the team’s success becomes your success.” - John C. Maxwell
But what else can you do to really understand how to be a leader that empowers others to champion change? If you’re wondering if there’s more to becoming a great Change Enabler than practicing these five traits, you would be right. Take the next step by diving deeper into learning about Change Enablement, Communications, and Leadership. These three key areas are essential for starting your learning journey off on the right foot. That’s why at Change Enablement Academy, we created Change Enablement training that explores these foundations in an accessible and engaging way.
Introducing Change Enablement Academy
Change Enablement Academy (CEA) is a Canadian-owned training and learning community for those experiencing, managing, or preparing for change. Our learning experiences are designed by a team of seasoned consulting professionals who are experts in helping organizations and their people navigate business transformations. We were founded by two consulting veterans that bring more than 20+ years of experience from supporting people change initiatives in a variety of industries such as Manufacturing, Insurance & Banking, Pharmaceutical, Transportation, and Public Government, just to name a few.
This September, we’re introducing five self-paced eLearning courses that cover the foundations of what it means to be a Change Leader and a Change Enabler. These courses are available à la carte or can be bundled together through our Change Enabler Starter Kit. This kit was crafted to provide a holistic learning experience to anyone at any level of an organization who is interested in learning about change. Learn more about the Change Enabler Starter Kit here.
While Change Enablement Academy continues to grow, we’re starting you off with the core foundations you need to navigate change today. Stay tuned as we continue to develop our other exciting learning opportunities such as instructor-led training (ILT) and webinars!
The Time to Learn About Change Enablement Is Now
Let us help you hit the ground running when it comes to building your Change Enablement capabilities. Like we mentioned earlier on, Change Enablement isn’t a net-new concept. While some organizations and people are beginning to understand the importance of it, you can get one step ahead by learning how to do it. Champion change in your organization by becoming a Change Enabler today with Change Enablement Academy.