Why individuals make or break change projects

I was at a business services launch over breakfast a couple of weeks ago  – a couple of hundred people and quite good bacon rolls. I talked with a couple of dozen people and was surprised by the number whose organisations were having difficulty implementing change. They talked about staff briefings,status updates and organisation changes, it all sounded very good but why were they reporting poor people engagement and low enthusiasm.

In project and change management it is common to focus on new equipment, changed work flows,  new procedures  etc., and it easy to consider the people involved as another part of the machine.  We often re-enforce this view by communicating on a team or group level, and this is a good way of ensuring people all get the same message,

Connected puzzle pieces form a circle but one is of different color

Teams are made up of individuals – teams change when individuals change

however we should not forget that teams and groups do not change the people within them do, so we have to be able to build enthusiasm with individuals in order to make teams and groups enthusiastic  and contribute to positive change.  Organisations have more options today to communicate on a near one to one level with the members of their company than ever before.  However it is difficult to imagine a more effective way of encouraging enthusiasm and commitment to a project than a 1-to-1 conversation with an enthusiastic and informed person.

In a large organisation this involves generating a group of  (I hesitate to use a much abused word) “champions” who can engage in such 1-to-1s  and feed back any new concerns to the central team.  However in a smaller organisation there is no reason why the senior member of the organisation cannot do this role themselves and perhaps improve on the results of a Yankelovitch & Partners study in the US that noted “63% of employees feel that their managers did not know what motivated them”


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