Can We Really Manage Change?

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Raymond Belles By Raymond Belles 
Director of Consulting and Education, McKesson
Home Health Software Implementation Change Management

The key, of course, is understanding how people react to change. One helpful resource is psychologist and professor Bruce Tuckman, who called the stages most groups go through in reaction to change “forming, storming, norming and performing.” In the forming phase, the group is highly dependent on the leader for guidance and direction, individual roles and responsibilities are unclear and processes are often ignored.

During storming phase, team members vie for position, cliques and factions form and the team must focus on its goals to avoid becoming distracted by relationships and emotional issues.

In the norming phase, big decisions are made by group agreement while smaller decisions may be delegated to individuals or small teams within group. The team responds well to leader facilitation by leader, roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted and commitment is strong.

The performing phase is characterized by a team that can stand on its own with no interference or participation from the leader. Disagreements occur, but now they are resolved within the team positively, and necessary changes to processes and structure are made by the team. More on Tuckman’s phases of group development can be found here.

Another resource for understanding human behavior around change is Spencer Johnson’s book “Who Moved My Cheese.” There’s a short video describing the premise of the book on YouTube.

Finally, the Articles section of the Options for Change website is an excellent resource for information on teams, change management and company culture.

The more disruptive the change, the more important it is to be proactive in addressing it. Above all, it’s essential to have a positive attitude about your organization’s ability to adapt to change.

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