Change management Vs. Behaviour change

Change management isn’t really about behaviour.

Back when I worked in corporate, we'd have rounds of Change Management.

Yes, that's Change Management with a capital C and M.

Because Change Management was a program of work. A process to shepherd the workforce from one system to another. This could be new software, new policies or a new management methodology.

That means it's about changing behaviour, right?

We participated in hours of briefings and brain storms to ensure we were engaged, ready and supportive of the new approach.

But here's the thing.

I don't believe it was about behaviour change at all.

We didn't really change. 'Change' was done to us.

Why is this important?

That's how people most often approach change in their business.

Cruise ships Vs. Sailing boats

Change Management is like a large cruise ship.

The captain sets course and the crew (usually HR/People & Culture) try to make the passengers happy as the ship goes where it needs to. They want people to be engaged but ultimately, success is reaching the destination.

The objective is to change what systems members use, not help them behave in a different way.

-> It's a macro exercise.

In contrast, behaviour change programs focus on changing how people work with and through others. And to do that, people have to be helped to change their OWN behaviour.

Change Management is steering a cruise ship, whereas behaviour change is helping a flotilla of sailing boats work better, separately or together, whatever the prevailing winds.

-> It's a micro exercise.

In my experience, most organisations assume change management changes the behaviour of individuals, when that's not what it's about.

And that means if you’re relying on Change Management to truly impact the behaviour of your team, you’re missing a significant piece of the puzzle.


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