Why psychology is critical in changing management strategy

By: Kyla Slen, VP of Operations

A fundamental mistake that can derail or stifle effective change management is the fact that many believe that one leadership model will work for an entire organization.The process of changing management strategy is complicated and difficult, and most companies fail to understand that effective organizational change requires a baseline understanding of the individual.

What is the person’s current situation, what are their skill sets, why do they do what they do, what is their capacity to develop, what role should they play, and what is it that needs to be developed in that individual for them to be effective within the organization? These are all questions that need to be considered.

Many organizations undertake programs that target an effective model for leadership. People are often taught theory, and not skills. They are provided structure, process, organization, and a hierarchy of command. They are not provided insight into why they do what they do and how that affects the organization’s ability to achieve objectives. People are not provided tools that help them understand personal strengths and development opportunities relative to organizational needs.

Many companies do not adequately consider or address where individuals are starting from, the differences in team dynamics, and the need to adjust professional and organizational development at the individual level, the team level, and then the organizational level. As a result, it is hard to psychologically get buy-in from the masses. It is difficult to convince people that the new strategy will improve the culture, efficiency, and effectiveness of the organizations.

Individuals and teams within an organization can adopt different development paths guided by well-defined principals. Implementation of a process that helps people understand how they will improve and how individual development will impact peers and the organization is critical to gain psychological alignment that will yield the desired result.

Companies must effectively address the individual needs first. Then, and only then, can they begin to address team and organizational objectives.People need to objectively understand their strengths and weaknesses. Individuals will respond to change when they understand what it is they need to change and how it will impact the outcome. Many programs focus on a philosophy that does not address the use of talent and development of skills.

Eric Clapton is one of the greatest guitar players of our time. Many of his songs have complicated guitar riffs that most musicians could not play. When one goes to the music store they can find sheet music that is written that enables people to play Clapton songs that do not require the sophisticated and intricate combinations of notes that he performs effortlessly. The song is recognizable as played by those with lesser talent. It is entertaining, but it was arranged to allow a broader number of people perform it and enjoy it.This is the proverbial same song, played a different way.

From a psychological perspective, the music companies have recognized that there are few Eric Clapton’s. They have been able to expand the market by providing a path that allows for a broader spectrum of ability. They have catered to the individual to achieve an objective, getting people to play Clapton’s music and enjoy the process and result.

Organizational change management will benefit from adopting some of these same principals.

Note: Scores and profiles reference in this article refer to characteristics defined in the EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics program