Meredith Carter and co-author Jane Moreton were asked to present an overview of their Capacity building and change management – a guide for community services at the Not for Profit People Conference 2017. Members of the Women's Table had a more intimate opportunity to join us for lunch and explore what this thing called 'change management' is really about.
So how can change be managed and do we really need to try?
Good questions. As in life, change seems to be a constant in many organisations. In the course of my career I've discovered the answer to the first is: yes to an extent, and to the second: yes definitely.
Experiences of change
I've discovered this through many varied experiences of major organisational change. As CEO I had the task of keeping Health Issues Centre afloat after savage funding cuts. In a later CEO role my job was to lead the reinvention of employer body Kindergarten Parents Victoria as the go to organisation on the importance of early childhood education. Later still I was an advisor to Yooralla as part of a huge organisational effort to prepare for the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Jane has also had extensive experience of change and capacity building during her years in the community sector and with Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA).
The value of a structured approach
Though these experiences were very different they taught me the value of a structured approach to getting where you want to go.That means having a plan and probably a good set of sub-plans. I've also learned the hard way some of the key steps to taking people with you. A systematic, documented approach that people can engage with is a key aspect of achieving their buy-in.
Community sector challenges
I relished the challenge when asked to create a guide designed especially for health and community sector organisations – to better manage change. There's a lot of literature and tools designed for commercial organisations, not so much for the not for profit sector. Specific challenges for example are the relationship with funding bodies and keeping these on track during any period of major change.
Build your vision and your team
Of course the precise tools you need to manage change will vary. However one of the critical things to understand is that to drive effective change you not only need a vision for where you want to go. It also means a focus on capacity development within the organisation. If your workforce has the tools that will help them achieve the change being sought it will make life a lot easier right?
Remember to address the psychological impact
Well yes and no. You need to give people the tools and help them build both their personal capacity and that of the organisation. It's also crucial to take into account the psychological impact of change and acknowledge the loss that people will inevitably feel. This is the case even when people rationally understand and support the need for change.
Engaging people means participation
Don't feel you need to have all the answers. In fact the more people feel they can contribute to both the vision and the process of where the organisation is trying to go the more likely they are to help get it there. Remember in addition to your workforce other stakeholders its useful to involve other agencies you work with and particularly, involve consumers of your services.
Get the guide
With lots of practical tools, strategies and suggestions and funded by the Australian government health department, the guide was commissioned by VAADA
Download it direct here:
I'm also delighted that Not for Profit People and Ethical Jobs have highlighted it as an excellent resource for community organisations and made it available here: https://nfppeople.com.au/2016/04/capacity-building-and-change-management-a-guide-for-community-services/
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