What change actually is

So what exactly is change? What are the models being used to understand and manage change, and what is the psychology of change?

In the past, change has been seen as requiring persuasion, coercion, or rewards, but in reality change is learning.

And with that understanding, we need to change our approach to change, to allow people to develop the skills, experience, attitudes and values that allow them to learn.

Let’s explore this further.

Watch the next video in this series here:

Part 3 – What Causes Change Resistance? Why Do Some People Love Change?

And watch the previous video here:

Part 1 – Change and the New Normal: Our Changing Workplaces

And if you know of anyone who would benefit from this video, please share it with them.

Video Transcript

Understanding change

Hi, Andrew from SACS.

And welcome to video number two in our six video series about the psychology of change.

This one is all about the psychology of what change actually is, what happens in the human brain when people are asked to undertake change.

Today we’ll be talking about what is change psychologically.

We’ll be talking in subsequent videos about why people vary in their acceptance of change, preconditions of change and change fatigue, neuroscience of change, and then how to do change.

Change is learning

I guess the key message that I’d like to give in this video is that change is learning.

Let’s look at the way that change efforts have been designed in the past. In general, they’ve been designed as exercises in charisma or persuasion or obedience or as coercion or as reward.

But in fact, psychologically, we now know that change is learning.

Whenever anybody needs to do something different, they need to learn how to do it differently.

And so what that means is that there are certain capabilities that need to be developed in order for change to work.

So if you take a competency-based perspective on change, change is when you need to deliver different outcomes or perhaps similar outcomes, but in different ways.

Developing new skills

Now, in order to be able to achieve certain outcomes, you need to develop certain skills.

To be able to move into a job which used to be, let’s say a job which was compliance orientated or administrative, but now it’s got a strong customer service component to it.

Well, obviously, we need to build new skills to be able to do that.

Building experience

Second, experience.

If we tried to do this job in a customer service orientated way and we’ve never done anything similar before, well, of course it’s going to be more difficult.

And as we start to experiment with doing the job in the new way, we will build our experience.

And if that works, then we’re going to feel more confident about how to do it. But if it doesn’t work, then we may well shy away from that.

Changing attitudes & values

And the third component is about attitudes and values.

And our attitudes and values may have to change in order for us to do whatever we need to do in a new way.

So change is learning, and we need to learn new capabilities in order to deliver whatever the change outcome is – skills, experience, attitudes and values.

The preconditions of learning

So this is an interesting thing because if change is learning, then we must set our change efforts up as learning activities, and we also must create the preconditions of learning.

So if you accept the proposition that change is learning, that causes you to do change management in a radically different way from how you’ve done it in the past.

I mean, if you think of the various change management methods, what have typically happened is that people have tried to segment the change task up into a sequence of steps, and then they tried to lead people through those steps.

Well, if psychologically what we’re undertaking is a learning exercise, we’re going to have to construct our change management efforts in a very different way.

And the rest of the videos in this sequence will explain how to do that.

The next video in the sequence is about why people vary in their acceptance of change.

Have you noticed that some people seem to be very welcoming of change? Some people seem to be very change-resistant.

Join us for the next video to find out why.

Watch the next video in this series to find out more about effective change management practices:

Part 3 – What Causes Change Resistance? Why Do Some People Love Change?

And watch the previous video here:

Part 1 – Change and the New Normal: Our Changing Workplaces

And if you’d like some help to measure the change resistance of your incoming recruits or the current engagement levels of your staff, contact us about our Employee Engagement Surveys.

SACS Consulting
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