In this article, I will share my 10 steps to building relationships for effective change management. 10 Tips for building lasting business relationships and making change management more effective.
Go back 10 years and change management was more about conformance, tracking technical changes and processes. Thank goodness that has changed.
Today Change Management is more about preparing the people in the organisation for the change. Working with the psychology of change and communications. In engineering terms, it is like “applying lubrication to help things go smoothly”. Change happens best when there is minimal resistance or friction.
The biggest mistake in change can be seen in policy changes
All too often we hear of managers and people not following processes and procedures. This can lead to difficult employee relation problems and court cases. Why do these things happen? Often because a change to the process was made. Documents updated, and poor or non-existent 2-way communication or consultation. The workloads and costs caused by this are huge.
The can be no effective change without people
When implementing large scale change and transformation effective change is even more important. Because the best organisations in the world have learnt this and now use Change Managers on all major projects. The role of the change manager is to prepare the organisation for change. It is not a one-off event but a way of life. Change management is not a linear process. It is dynamic. Without great relationships with stakeholders at all levels, no change manager can be effective.
Get to know people – all people
As a result of being a young trainee, I learnt very quickly that I was at the “bottom of the ladder”. I had no authority or responsibility. But I was required to get things done. I made it my job to get to know key people. Those key people turned out to be – Security staff, receptionists, cleaners, catering. For each of them knows other people in the organisation. They knew who knew what. They were the start for me. Of course, building relationships with the head of departments was important too. But in those days, many did not have much time for trainees.
10 steps to building relationships for effective change management
Real relationships make a significant difference to effective organisations. Understanding and knowing others takes things beyond the transaction of meetings and tasks. Put simply relationships get things done.
It is all very well for people like me to say, “build relationships”, but if you are not outward going, or find small talk difficult where do you start?
A pre-step before you start,
Let go of any expectations. Sometimes things work. Sometimes they do not. We all have history and we bring that to new relationships. Some people are fast to trust, other more guarded. Accept that people are not always the way we want them to be. Learn to accept people for who they are. You need to “Go there first“. Be open, receptive and non-judgemental.
Step 1 – Be Authentic
Be yourself. Do not try to be someone else. It may work for them but it won’t work for you. I have found that we have something in common with everyone. The challenge is to find that thing!
Step 2 – Find Shared Goals and Values
We like people that are like us. It is easier to trust people that value the same things. In many organisations, people stay because the values of the organisation are like their own personal values. The great news is this means many of the people in the organisation have some level of similarity in values. When looking at peoples’ values, remember that it is critical that you remain authentic to your own. Putting on a mask may help in the short term, but trust will come crashing down sooner or later.
Step 3 – Grow Respect for Eachother
Respect does not happen overnight. We can value peoples’ skills and opinions. But true respect takes time and experience. I find that developing an attitude of “what does that person know or do that I can learn from” is a useful starting point. Personally, I find it helpful to start by assuming they have things to be respected for. I seek those things, rather than being defensive and waiting for the respect to show.
Step 4 – Be honest, Be human
Building relationships can he helped by us sharing something personal or by showing that you are vulnerable in some way. This shows trust and builds understanding. To be human is to show our weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Where and when you share this is critical. Standing on a chair at a ‘Town hall@ meeting and declaring you have a phobia of spiders is not a clever idea! It’s about building trust and rapport not showboating.
Step 5 – Show support and commitment
In change situations, many people feel threatened. It’s important that we show that we are here to support and not catch them doing something wrong. We need to show them that “I’ve Got Your Back”. Not all conversations will be positive. Sometimes, behind closed doors, we need to have difficult discussions. That is easier to do when 2 people respect each other.
Step 6 – Build bridges and connections
In sales, the most powerful thing we can do is provide a referral. In change management, it can be about introductions. Help solve problems by introducing them to others that have experience that may help them. People buy people.
Step 7 – Make friendships
Getting to know people in the office is one thing. To really know who the people are that you work with, we need to spend ‘quality’ time with them. Have a drink (Coffee or a beer), lunch. Spend time sharing an experience and talking. Learning about someone’s life journey builds stronger connections.
Step 8 – Do things together
It is not all about work. If a person is willing to invest some personal time, go and have some fun together. Go bowling, foosball, do something playful. Meeting and talking in a variety of environments build different levels of connections between people. Having fun with people and having laughs about things brings us closer as human beings. Stronger bonds. Better working relationships.
Step 9 – Allow time for “chewing the fat”
Schedule time together with the goal of catching up. To explore what each of you are doing. I do this a lot. It “lubricates the process” It can make dealing with bigger issues quick and painless.
Because by use this time for brainstorming or problem-solving we build trust. The more regular you spend time the more powerful the relationship. Make sure any time spent has mutual benefit.
Step 10 – give before you take
Because many of us go wrong when networking because we ask something of someone before trust is build.. This sets the benchmark of the relationship. If every time we see someone we ask for something it starts to put the other person on guard. Ask them first. What are their issues, what are their problems? If you can help – help. If you can signpost to someone in your network that can help. Do so.
Summary – 10 steps to building relationships for effective change management
So here are my top tips or 10 steps to building relationships for effective change management. I probably do more, but as I write this these are the ones that spring to mind.
- Be Authentic when building relationships for effective change management
- Find shared goals and values to help to build relationships for effective change management
- Grow Respect for each other to building relationships for effective change management
- Be honest, Be human leads to building relationships for effective change management
- Show support and commitment to building relationships for effective change management
- Build bridges and connections to build relationships for effective change management
- Make friendships to build relationships for effective change management
- Do things together to build relationships for effective change management
- Allow time for “chewing the fat” to building relationships for effective change management
- 10 Give before you take to building relationships for effective change management
What are your thoughts? What are your tips to share with others? Please add them as comments below. Thank you