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When Change Management ISN'T Needed

Most managers realize that projects, particularly large projects, should have a change management element. This is necessary because you want to make sure that the people impacted by the project not only understand what is changing, but why. This is meant to ensure that everyone buys-in to the project and it doesn't face any unnecessary stumbling blocks during implementation.

Do you know when change management isn't needed? When the employee wants the change themselves.

This is the beauty of the development process. When you let the employee decide what skills they want to develop, you don't have to do any change management. They are picking the skill based on what they know and want. No convincing, no selling of the idea, no ensuring buy-in.

As an example, when I went to college, I was given a list of requirements in order to graduate in my major. It consisted of required classes (had to take that specific class), topic options (I had to take a class in a certain area, but I had several to choose from), and electives (I needed credits, but it really could be anything I wanted).

Guess which classes I enjoyed the most and got the most out of? It sure wasn't the required classes. Those were usually big lectures with other people who were forced to be there and it was a drag. However, when I got to pick the class I wanted, I found topics relevant and interesting to me. I can't tell you very much of what I learned in Education 101, but I sure can remember reading and thinking during Existential Philosophy.

This is an area where I believe corporate learning and development departments will need to adjust (as well as colleges and probably high schools). Managers don't need to wait.

Set the expectation that growth is required, let the employee pick where the growth is going to have the biggest impact. This let's you avoid having to do change management and ensures that the skills of the employee and team continue to grow.

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