Change management and austerity

Posted by Anne-Lise MacKenzie on Jun 25, 2010

We are about to publish the results of our ‘flash’ survey on ROI and change management. Fascinating stuff it is too. It gives some great information on the inputs and outputs of the change process. Read the initial headline findings here, ROI on Change Management.

But one of the things it brought home to me, was how much our change efforts are now aimed at surviving the recession. The ‘top 3’ initiatives were

  1. productivity
  2. quality
  3. efficiency

And, it was much the same in 2009. Then on Tuesday I sat and listened to the UK’s ‘austerity’ budget being announced UK budget announcement .This will resonate with anyone around Europe because we are all facing similar announcements. Many people in Europe are seeing welfare cuts, pay freezes, increased taxes, retire later on less and so on.

When this sort of action happens you can really see how universal the commonalities of change are across organisations, communities and countries. You see how people react when well established norms and conventions are challenged and changed. People’s loss of control is obvious. You see ‘denial’ (“our country can pay off it’s debts without cutting public expenditure”) turn rapidly to ‘shock’ (“how could they!”) convert into ‘anger’ (“these politicians are terrible people”. Lastly, a few people already are moving into the ‘bargaining’ stage (“we’ll keep working hard if you give us a salary increase this year”).

On the other side of the change curve, I see people in business who have adapted to the new situation: continuing recession. They have been working on this since 2008. I have been at meetings, in the last few months, where people have talked about “the new reality”, “living in a new paradigm”, “what they have learned” and “this is not temporary so we need to continuously adjust”. Many of these people have reached acceptance of the change. But it may have taken them two years to get there! Interestingly, my observation would be that many got to logical acceptance sometime ago but it’s taken their emotions a good few months to catch-up.

This blog is not supporting any one solution but I am fascinated by change and how you can help people during these times. So, I am left with a key question – How can governments help people adapt to these changes (if at all)?

Tags: Change Management, change management austerity, change management research, Change management ROI, Change Management success, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Organisational Change, Personal Adaptability, recession

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