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The Changing Context of Change

​After what has been such a challenging couple of years for so many people in so many unique ways, it was refreshing to bring together an incredibly diverse community of Change Leaders from across the industry (and 6 different countries) to pause, take a breath, and talk openly and honestly about their reflections on the ever-changing landscape we have been confronted with.

And after such a lengthy period of physical and emotional detachment, there was a palpable buzz in the room that people had been provided with an open forum to talk candidly and with such verve about themes that have impacted all of us throughout this extraordinary period of Change navigation.

Change Fatigue

As you would perhaps expect, the Global Pandemic was central to the initial discussion, with arguments presented to suggest that Covid has been even more impactful because we had already been faced with several Change-related challenges prior to the world being turned upside down. In a world that is constantly striving towards excellence in the overall journey of the customer, we are constantly having to tweak and refine our service offerings, which brings about many discussions for Change professionals.

And with these conversations ever compiling, particularly as a result of the ever-evolving Digital evolution we are witnessing, there was definitely a sentiment that Covid had only added to the stresses and concerns of our Change teams across industries. We were already fatigued and Covid exacerbated this feeling of being overwhelmed. In essence, we were already head down in the trenches just looking to deliver, often making decisions purely based on a fear of failing.

And how did we cope with this notion of being overstretched? We sought balance in our lives between our work life and our home life, we built new routines and coping mechanisms to deal with the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty of life in a pandemic world and for many of us, we worked more productively than ever.

All of this taught us that we can influence Change from anywhere and that we can pull together and have just as valuable Change-related conversations remotely. Whilst we’d still rather enjoy that separation of work and home life, we showed a willingness to pivot in order to continue to deliver outcomes, despite the challenges to both our mental and physical health.

 

Changes in Hiring

Aside from there being a sprinkling of recruiters in the room, it was perhaps inevitable that the discussion naturally led towards the impact all of this has had on hiring agendas. We talked openly about how the abundance of job opportunities in the market versus the short supply line of readily available candidates has impacted us all. (Also, with reference to the Business Analysis market, which has become a real war for talent)

The commonly coined term “The Great Resignation” definitely got a mention, with many sharing their experiences of seeing many individuals moving from ‘Job A’ to ‘job B’ with financial gain the only real driver. However, as we discussed, surely a more appropriate term for this should be “The Great Refresh”, as this process has certainly served as a means of deciphering and sifting out the truly motivated, bigger picture thinkers from the ones seeking immediate gratification?

Surely we should be looking beyond what is written on paper and be delving deeper into people’s attitudes, desires, levels of resilience, emotional intelligence, and their ability to be nimble? In a market that habitually follows a “cookie cutter” method of recruitment, maybe we need to be looking past this and focusing on the people who want it more? This is always going to be a confronting dilemma, given the need to deliver in the present, whilst also being mindful of future-proofing your long-term Change capabilities.

However, the prevailing feeling around the table seemed to be the need to identify people with the desired culture fit and soft skills and focus on propelling their capabilities internally; even mobilizing pre-existing talent from other compatible roles elsewhere in the business. Easier said than done though, right? How do we test these people? The reality is that many hiring leaders revert back to type, though we need to think beyond the short term. There will forever be a contrast between what the immediate ‘must wins’ are versus the long-term strategic goals.

This then opened the pathway for a discussion around hiring contractors as opposed to permanent members of staff, with the underlying argument of “why hire contractors as part of a multi-year roadmap?” Evidently, it is a common dichotomy for many hiring leaders, with the market so heavily steered towards the contract market, whilst businesses are eager to build robust Change and Transformation teams that can leave long-lasting legacies behind them, which is more conducive to hiring permanent Change professionals. Ultimately, if people have survived two years of contracting in what has been such a volatile market, why would they ever return to permanent work when the contract game is so much more lucrative?

 

What do Businesses need to be doing differently from a Change Perspective?

The conversation drew to a close with a period of introspection on what organisations need to do in order to keep evolving, with the Change function central to that forward motion. Many around the table recognized the need for Change to be a focal point in any conversations around business plans, as opposed to a reactive afterthought. Rather than outline the strategy and then hire a load of Change people to simply deliver, involve them at an earlier stage, and provide them with a voice.

Change teams also need to leverage off other teams and build tighter relationships with supporting members of project teams, particularly Business Analysts, in order to form a more seamless link, driving more meaningful conversations and ultimately, better business outcomes. Collaboration is key and everyone plays an equal role in the overall project lifecycle. The general sentiment was that quite often people can make excuses for a lack of progress due to shortfalls from other teams, but we all need to pull together to achieve the desired outcomes.

All in all, it was a fascinating and flowing discussion around how Change Management as a function has coped with the unpleasant surprises of the past couple of years and how we can use these lessons to continuously improve for the years ahead, moving our Change teams forward. We look forward to continuing to build our Change community, as well as facilitating more meaningful discussions across the Projects and Transformation space overall.

Thank you to everyone who attended and added such value to a really meaningful conversation and thank you to Lindy Jones for chairing the roundtable and steering it all so seamlessly.

Stay tuned to hear of more upcoming events with us here at Talenza