What if the entire population becomes vulnerable due a pandemic? COVID-19 took the world by surprise, then by storm, compelling us to adapt to new realities which considerably impact our individual, social and professional lives. The Canadian Federal Government, responsible for leading the pandemic crisis response, had to take effective and swift action in a rapidly shifting environment, driven by a new and mysterious threat. Implementing a multitude of effective responses across the country during COVID-19 posed a significant challenge for the Federal Government with regards to speed, agility and performance, and they proved up to the task, using an action learning, collaborative and iterative approach.
Emergencies and crises often create the perfect storm for transformation, as change is primarily driven by the powerful winds of Pain and/or Gain. Not surprisingly, up to 80% of change is propelled by Pain, a wake up call that pushes us out of complacency, providing opportunities to raise the bar, innovate, shift paradigms, modernize, and make systems work better for more people.
Change was in the wind. As is true for many industries, the insurance industry was facing significant change. Making the shift from a regulated to a deregulated industry seemed a daunting challenge for the 100 year old RockSolid Insurance Company. The question for the executive team was how to craft a strategy and initiate change in ways that would enable the company to compete successfully into the future.
Imagine that you are in a conversation when you suddenly realize that you have had this exact same disagreement with a co-worker, or a family member, many times before. In the moment, you can predict what you will say and do and what the other person will too. You feel compelled to act in a certain way, even when you know that what you will say or do next is unwise or unproductive. You cannot seem to help yourself. Or the other person! After the conversation has gone from bad to worse, you may find yourself attributing it to the other person’s incompetence, character flaws, or bad motive.
George was sitting quietly at the back of the room when he suddenly came to life. “But you don’t understand. All this talk about getting ‘sponsors’ on board is all well and good, but what do you do when your sponsor is basically invisible?” A roomful of participants nodded in agreement as George continued. “We can’t get sponsors to show up at meetings, they won’t make decisions that affect the project, they don’t allocate the resources we need. They might as well be ghosts!”
Each year, Queen’s IRC releases a number of new articles and papers written by our facilitators, staff and experts in the community. In 2016, we also released a change management book, written by Dr. Carol Beatty. These are the five most popular articles Queen's IRC released in 2016:
The 2015 Don Wood Lecture was delivered by Peter Edwards, Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific. In the lecture, Peter spoke about the future of work, including the changes that are taking place in organizations as new technology emerges, how these changes affect workers and how the HR and labour relations processes, like collective bargaining, need to evolve.
When I first started as an MBA student, I attended the Managing Change MBA course taught by Dr. Carol A. Beatty at Queen’s. During that time Dr. Beatty’s research was focused on collecting data from organizations about successful and unsuccessful change management projects. I am pleased to introduce Carol’s e-book The Easy, Hard & Tough Work of Managing Change.
This free e-book walks you through the change management process, from start to finish. It's based on more than 20 years of Dr. Carol A. Beatty’s research, and identifies not only the easy and hard work in change management, but also the tough work that is often neglected by change leaders, who place too much emphasis on high-level change planning and not enough emphasis on implementation.
Creating energy, engagement, and commitment to change initiatives is one of many challenges we face as change agents. Increasingly, organizations, managers, and change practitioners espouse a belief that involving people in the change initiative is important. Many of us would agree in principle with this philosophy: Participation is essential to successful change implementation. However, the practical dimension of how to actually accomplish employee participation in change initiatives poses a challenge to change implementers.
Getting the news out about an upcoming restructuring, merger or acquisition, layoff, or other major organizational change can be a challenge. No one wants to experience having their name ‘pop up’ in a new organization chart that is widely distributed online before receiving any direct personal communication from their boss.
When Hunter Harrison joined the recently-privatized Canadian National Railway (CNR) in 1998 as Chief Operating Officer, the company was generally acknowledged as one of the worst railroads in North America, highly indebted, perpetually in the red, and losing market share to the more efficient, flexible and newly deregulated U.S. railway and trucking industries.
The world of work is changing, and the most successful organizations and practitioners are those that understand how these changes impact the way they do business. To help them do so, and to foster further dialogue, Queen’s IRC hosted the Workplace in Motion Summit. This report elaborates on the most important questions, issues, and themes identified by Summit participants going forward.
Here are the most popular articles Queen's IRC released in 2015. 1. Managing Emotional Reactions to Organizational Change. 2. Workplace Bullying and Harassment: Costly Conduct. 3. An Inquiry into the State of HR in Canada in 2013: Executive Summary. 4. The Tough Work of Managing Change. 5. Human Rights and Human Wrongs: Our Continuing Need to Teach
As the year draws to a close, I would like to reflect on some of the highlights for Queen’s IRC and recap the articles we released this year. This year, we introduced an advanced change management course called Designing Change, which provides the tools and skills needed to map out and lead a transformational culture shift in an organization.
Peter Edwards, Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific, delivered the 2015 W. D. Wood Lecture on November 6, 2015 at Queen’s University. Peter spoke about the future of work, the future of the labour movement and how technology will impact jobs. Peter urged the audience to think about how things like controlling trains remotely, driverless cars, and completely automated factories are going to profoundly change the world.
Can you recall a time when you experienced a major change in your organization? Perhaps like others around you, you experienced a roller coaster of emotions: excitement that at long last something was going to happen to change the status quo, confusion about the specifics of the intended changes, and anxiety about what it could mean for you, your team, and even your family. Change can be disruptive, both professionally and personally.
Working in the telecommunications industry, people assume that we are ahead of the curve in terms of change initiatives and communication practises. But similar to other companies, we are challenged to come up with our own change management processes within our organization. Our industry is changing rapidly, and that means we need to change too. In this article, I will share how Cogeco developed a new change model quite quickly to respond rapidly and succinctly to the transformational trends in our industry.
Most experts would agree that communication is a vital ingredient in successful change initiatives, and there is much research to support this assertion. My own research revealed a very high correlation between change success and communications efforts (Pearson correlation r = 0.567, significant at the 0.01 level). Furthermore, it has also been shown that ineffective internal communication is a major contributor to the failure of change initiatives.
Organizational culture isn’t like a sports car. It cannot instantly change directions and make a hairpin turn. Instead, it’s more like a tanker ship that takes time and planning to put on the right course. If you think about how your organization or team arrived at the culture it currently has, it’s unlikely you can point to a single event, or even a few moments, that explain your current culture. Instead, it is the slow changes that happen, unnoticed at the time, which better explain how most organizational cultures develop.
We are pleased to announce that this year’s W. Donald Wood lecturer will be Mr. Peter Edwards, Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific. Peter holds an undergraduate degree and Master of Industrial Relations (MIR) degree from Queen’s University. He is also a speaker at the Queen’s IRC Labour Relations Foundations program. The W. D. Wood Visiting Lectureship was designed to bring to Queen's University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries.
Dealing with resistance is tough work, but avoiding this work only makes change more difficult. When facing major change, management tends to view the new direction as an opportunity, while employees face the change with feelings of uncertainty, fear and disruption. Furthermore, most change leaders underestimate the amount of resistance they will face. However, as this case shows, external conditions, trust in the organization, and skillful handling of resistance can all contribute to lessening resistance and increasing support for a change initiative.
After you know who will lead a change initiative, why the change is necessary and what future you are trying to create, you come to the “how”—the activities you must plan to implement the change successfully. This is tough work because of the countless details that must be thought through and included in a change rollout plan. Forget something crucial here, and your change may be in jeopardy, as is highlighted in the following case study.