TJ Essentials: Change management pts 1-3

In the first three parts of a new set of mini-guides called TJ Essentials, Steve Macaulay and Sarah Cook take a look at change management.  


Change is everywhere and it affects many aspects of our lives, but organisational change poses particularly complex issues. This concise guide provides practical frameworks, tips and approaches to assist in the management of change within organisations.

Change is such a wide-ranging subject that, for practical purposes, this guide directs your attention to a key number of areas which are particularly relevant to L&D professionals.

Each mini guide draws on the practical experience of the authors and work of experts who have researched and written in this area, as well as the addition of useful frameworks which have well-proven value for application in organisations. Overall, these useful pointers will help L&D professionals to address change.

The guide is structured around a series of important aspects of change covering the following key headings:

  • Change in the 21st century
  • L&D’s role in change and transformation
  • The leader’s role in change
  • The manager’s role in change
  • Implementation of sustainable change
  • The importance of communication throughout change
  • Types of change – developmental, transitional and transformational
  • Useful change management models
  • Collaboration as a key component of change
  • Conflict management during change
  • Conclusion – mobilising the organisation to change.


Part one: What is change in the 21st Century?

A key part of HR and L&D professionals’ roles is to understand and respond to powerful external influences which exist in the 21st century. Each industry sector will be affected in different ways by these forces, and will have to respond to sectoral, competitive, cultural, legislative, and regulatory pressures.

What are some of the most significant changes?

New technology

Technology in the workplace has evolved significantly over the past decades. For example, cloud-based tools will accommodate a range of working styles, virtual and augmented reality can boost employee L&D, artificial intelligence-based tools are available to create more simple and efficient work flows .

Sophisticated technologies need sophisticated human skills to design, programme, operate, monitor, maintain, and tailor them to specific applications. The net effect is to create demand for knowledge workers with more formal education and higher technical skill levels. 

Technology has also opened up flexible models of work: for example, remote, gigging, on-call, contingent, platform-based freelancing.

Social media

Social media have considerable implications in the workplace. As ACAS comments: “Social media can affect communications among managers, employees and job applicants; how organisations promote and control their reputation; and how colleagues treat one another. It can also distort what boundaries there are between home and work.”

With care, technology and social media implementation can deliver positive outcomes for the organisation and its people. According to a recent survey, almost one third of UK companies still don’t have social media policies in place, yet studies have shown that social media use helps to build and maintain networks, which contribute to idea-and information-sharing, which benefit the organisation. 

These questions may assist discussion:

  • Have you social media policies in place?
  • Have you considered an in-house enterprise social network, for internal two-way real time communication? 
  • Are you monitoring and responding to comments about your organisation posted on websites and chat rooms?
  • Have you thought through the L&D implications and possibilities?

A wide cross-section of ages and backgrounds

Nowadays, the workplace is likely to be made up of a wide cross-section of ages and backgrounds. L&D must be aware of the diversity of different generational perspectives, what this consists of, and actively work to understand how different age groups present their preferences and outlook.

This will help build richer and diverse learning experiences and should lead to a more productive organisation and better understanding between generations. Organisations will need to develop policies to retain experienced older workers – flexible retirement, physical support technologies, and mentoring schemes that pair younger and older staff.


L&D implications

A whole raft of issues arise as these changes take effect. For example, have you a process in place for identifying and addressing the skills gaps that can exist with emerging technologies?

L&D and HR will have to identify and tackle such weighty topics as: reskilling, upskilling, revised leadership styles, the impact of continuous learning, the growth of mentoring, adopting retention policies, work redesign, active consideration of work-life balance, employee engagement, and new forms of internal communications. 


All organisations must grapple with change and much conventional thinking about managing and working may need to be re-evaluated. The organisational implications of living in a time of change mean L&D professionals and HR specialists need to be closely involved with promoting fresh approaches, skills and ideas.

Many organisations are simply not geared up for agile change. However, 21st Century change demands a whole set of new skills and approaches. By developing these new skills and approaches, encouraging experimentation and innovation, L&D can assist leaders to engage with others to achieve what for many organisations will be a significant amount of change.


Part two: What is the role of L&D in transformations?

L&D professionals have a substantial role to play in helping leaders and organisations to prepare for the future:

Leadership and talent development

Leadership skills and nurturing talent are vital in times of change. Leaders need to learn how to scan the horizon, drive and prepare for change, encouraging the willingness to take on board new ideas, for example by promoting collaboration to share information and innovation.

They need to concentrate on their exemplar roles at multiple levels: the level of the individual, the team, the organisation, and across cultures. 

Setting direction in times of uncertainty and complexity requires the ability to articulate clearly in their own terms vision, values, and purpose and to communicate a shared understanding of the changing situation. Tesco for example has introduced new leadership skills focused on collaboration, empathy, responsiveness, resilience and innovation.

Helping leaders to pick up on trends

Leaders need to have wide-ranging sensitive antennae to pick up trends. This goes well beyond industry analysis to look at economic, political, technological and social trends.

In the words of the group head of HR for Tesco writing in 2014: “For us this means leaders who have their eyes wide open — not waiting to be told what to do. This is a big cultural change for traditional management hierarchies like ours. It will take years, not months, and starts with us as leaders.”

The principles of stimulating innovative ideas and new thinking involves encouraging different perspectives; this might mean listening to futurologists and specialists, customers and consumers, managers and front-line people for example.

Supporting managers and teams through change

L&D can help facilitate good management practice during change by working with managers and teams to help embrace and implement change initiatives. This can involve not only management development programmes which build managers’ competence and confidence during change, but also working with change champions as well as specific teams across the organisation.

Here L&D can help facilitate open discussion around change and its impact and support teams in developing a vision and plan for the future. To agree on the interventions that L&D needs to provide, a robust learning needs analysis can be useful, covering both soft and hard skills, knowledge and behaviour change.

Strengthening resilience

L&D as well as HR professionals can play an important role across the organisation in helping people to prepare for and manage change by strengthening personal and team resilience.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity. L&D can work with teams to strengthen their resilience by preparing them for change as well as facilitating discussion around lessons learned during and post change.

In a Cranfield research study of leading companies who adopted resilient-strengthening capabilities, the following benefits emerged:

  • The ability to anticipate problems before they develop and thus also identify new opportunities.
  • Learning from experience, the ability to learn from experience and make the necessary changes to strategy, tactics, processes and capabilities.
  • Flexibility to respond to changing circumstances, either positive or negative.

Developing new targeted capabilities

L&D professionals need to be flexible and agile when developing interventions to help manage change. L&D need to tailor their services according to the need of individuals and teams and be open to and champions of different ways and styles of learning.

For example, on the one hand, at the ideas end, the culture has to be relaxed and willing to tolerate some failure, and at the implementation customer delivery part of a business, you have got to be much more disciplined and intolerant of customer failure.  

Some commentators call this the ambidextrous organisation-both managing the detail and the past, whilst also looking ahead at the future. Often well-established and large organisations find this a hard task to achieve.


The organisational implications of living in an age of transformation mean L&D professionals and HR specialists need to take a lead in promoting fresh approaches, skills and ideas.


Part three: The leader’s role in change

Taking a change leadership approach in today’s environment involves engaging the whole organisation to take responsibility for implementing changes. As such, leaders should not under-estimate the challenge to be undertaken to gear up and deliver substantial change. L&D plays a major role in supporting leaders to overcome obstacles and achieve the necessary change.

Leadership competencies

As an L&D professional, it is important to identify the development leaders need to help prepare for, lead and embed change. Development must focus on what is right for your organisation’s needs. Consider this list and decide what is most relevant to take your whole organisation forward:

  • IQ – Intelligence Quotient. A leader’s ability to acquire knowledge and make a compelling argument.
  • EQ – is Emotional Intelligence. This is necessary for effective relationships. It is a leader’s ability to understand and manage both their own emotions and those of others.
  • SQ – is spiritual intelligence. This is the ability of leaders to understand their own values and what is important to them and to the organisation. This also represents the areas of self-awareness and self- development, which are important if leaders want to role model effective behaviours during change.
  • PQ is political judgement. A leader’s ability to navigate a way forward through diverse stakeholders’ agendas. It represents the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to influence and negotiate with others.
  • RQ is the leader’s resilience quotient. The capacity to emotionally sustain high performance under pressure, particularly important in the context of change.
  • BQ – Business Intelligence. This is the ability to understand the business and the context for change and then responding in an agile way to any changes and trends; spotting the opportunities and constraints within the organisation.

The pressures leaders face under change

Importantly, leaders will be under pressure when change is high on the agenda. In reality, successful leadership of change is the not the result of one person at the top but harnessing the energy and ideas of the whole organisation.

Leading a change initiative

The leader’s change role is to look ahead and take a pivotal position in getting the whole organisation to engage in this analysis.

The STAR framework is one used in some organisations to help leaders engage employees in an examination of the road ahead.

S stands for Situation – what situation are we in?

Unclear and fast-moving business environments require leaders to understand their current situation much more thoroughly than previously and this can lead to stripping away sometimes comfortable assumptions.

Target – where are we heading?

The focus of the leader is often to set a general direction, obtain stakeholder input and commitment to that general direction and build the organisation’s capacity.

The strategic plan should not limit the organisation’s capabilities, rather it builds them. Leaders often think that the vision or strategy should be set in the board room, but engaging others in the development of vision is a powerful way of increasing motivation and commitment.

Actions – what steps do we need to take to move forward?

Reconfiguring businesses to manage ahead requires speeding up the process of putting plans into action, affecting people, processes, tech­nology and structures. This recognises the importance of sensing and reacting to changes in the business environment in a way that is responsive and rapid.

For example, businesses such as Amazon quickly pilot prototypes to experiment and test new service concepts and ideas.

Review – types of review, duration and frequency

Traditional approaches to reviewing organisational decisions need updating for today’s challenges: a few top managers or specialists poring over financial data is inadequate.

Creating safe spaces for experimenting and prototyping can help stimulate change, as can reviewing learning and building on what works well and can be replicated or adapted.


Future-focused leaders must direct their attention towards how best to achieve a sustainable future for their organisation. With a diverse workforce, spanning multi-generations and a changing environment, successful leaders today must take up the challenge to still be successful tomorrow.


About the authors

Steve Macaulay and Sarah Cook are development specialists and performance coaches who focus on helping leaders and organisations to achieve sustainable change. Steve can be contacted at; Sarah, at



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