Welcome to building better managers, the better manager podcast with Wendy Hanson, where we talk with top leadership professionals about strategies you can use today to create a happier, highly engaged and more productive workplace. Now, here's your host better manage your co founder Wendy Hanson.
Welcome, everybody. It's so great to have you here with us today. One thing we know is change is inevitable. And we're going through a lot of it right now. It's happening in almost all businesses these days are let me correct that. It's happening in all businesses, not almost as managers and leaders of HR and learning and development, we need to support our team members, our organization's initiatives for success by preparing, equipping and supporting our workforce during these times of transition, especially in this post pandemic workplace, which has brought so much change to everything. I'm so excited today to have my guest, Tim Creasy. He's going to walk us through some of the strategies that will help our managers and the organizations deal with change. And I think we really could use a lot of help in that area right now. So I'm so delighted to be able to have Tim join us. So let me tell you a little bit about Tim. Tim Creasy is a dynamic speaker, researcher and thought leader on managing the people side of projects and initiatives to deliver organizational results. He has spoken to hundreds of 1000s of people around the globe, enabling audiences with valuable actionable insights. audiences everywhere agree he is authentic, knowledgeable and unassumingly funny. Tim co authored the book change management, the people side of change, and his work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world about change management. As one of the change disciplines, contemporary thought leaders, Tim generously shares his experiences and insights through conversation, public speaking and writing. So welcome, Tim. I'm so happy to have you here.
Tim Creasey 02:17
Well, thank you, Wendy. It's such a pleasure to be here to have a conversation with you.
Yeah. And it's such a hot topic right now that I think, you know, we always look at what can people and I want the listeners to be thinking about this, too. What do you want to take away from this and begin thinking about what are some of those things that Tim mentions that you might be able to do in your organization or with your team? So why don't we start out that you're the chief innovation officer at pro psi. Tell us a little bit about the organization as we launch into talking about change?
Tim Creasey 02:53
Yeah, very good. So pro psi is a firm focused on helping individuals and organizations build their own capability at achieving the outcomes they set out to achieve when they put their mind and time and energy into change. We were founded by an insatiably curious engineer who wanted to understand why some projects were successful, and others weren't. And so he went about investigating through research. What were those differentiators? And you know, what, it's no surprise to you or your audience, the biggest differentiator between the projects that succeeded, and those that didn't was how well we prepared, equipped and support our people through the change we were asking them to make. And so for the past 20 years, we've been doing research, delivered training and advisory services to help organizations tend to that ever present people side of change that was unfortunately neglected or overlooked sometimes.
Oh, that's great. And it's research that's been needed for a long time. But we didn't know how much we would need it until we hit the pandemic, right?
Tim Creasey 03:58
Yeah, right. Talk about the most collective and individual change we've ever, you know, experienced. Every organization in a matter of days went through what I like to call the involuntary digital transformation, right? We have CTOs and CIOs talking about digital transformation for years. And then in a matter of days, most organizations actually executed on that transformation, right brought to life, digital capabilities, like virtual work and remote collaboration that we'd enabled for years, but we'd never really leaned into him. So yeah, we get the instantaneous remote work experiment, we get the involuntary digital transformation. And then now we have this reimagining of the workplace, you know, and the role that leaders and managers have in designing what we have in front of us. So fascinating time. And I think Wendy, one of the phrases that I bring forward and some of my keynotes is this idea that the people side of change can no longer be unseen right before the pandemic you Who could have embraced this old mindset if I can just tell my people to jump and they will say how high and you know, the values have evolved over the last 20 years, there's certainly been an embracing of different approaches. But then in the last three years, when you had to look into the living rooms and dining rooms and guest bedrooms of your colleagues hear the symphony of their lives in the background of each meeting, there's just a different level of you, humanity that I think got paradoxically pumped into the connective tissue of organizations. So fascinating time to be tending to the people side of change that's always been there, but is now completely apparent to everybody.
Yeah, yeah. And, and our people need to understand the why of things. And so that was, you know, old school was like, here's what you know. But now we need to understand why. And we need to know that it's pretty complicated when we have hybrid teams, we have fully remote teams, and how do we keep everybody on that same page. And I love what you said about, you know, things that we talked about for years, all of a sudden, we were able to put it into action in one week, it shows what we're all capable of doing, when necessity comes to comes to the forefront.
Tim Creasey 06:18
Yeah, the amount of you know, tenacity and ingenuity that was employed during a very, very hard time for everybody, I think was, it'll be interesting to reflect on it and say, you know, What, did we really learn about ourselves and our organizations? During those trying times, you know, what new capabilities did we grow? Whether we wanted to or not, as we responded to this new world, we're all navigating. So actually, I have an article I'm writing right now about, it was interesting. I had it was a really big organization. I had a group of 250 change agents together. And then the next week 170 leaders in the organization. And I asked them both, you know, what are those, what capabilities emerged during the pandemic that have to be part of your future future of work design, because they are now part of who we are as individuals, as teams, as organizations, and what expectations have emerged over the last three years that have to be part of that workplace of the future that we are co creating together. And it's interesting to see kind of the where there was congruence, but then also where there was some potential disconnect. But all of that, as part of this new organization, we're all going to be we're all part of right each and every day.
Yeah. And I'm always curious, when will we be looking back and reflecting? Because we're not through it yet? You know, we're not through getting everything settled. And, and and we may never be, you know, we may have really created something that, you know, it's it's not ever going to be business as usual. We have to really stay very adaptable.
Tim Creasey 07:55
Yeah. And I think I think that's the mindset we need to step into. Right? I was on a podcast, it was a webinar, April 2020. So right in the midst of lockdown, and one of the fellow colleagues on the on the on the panel uses the term reentry. And I'm rarely at over loss for words when the I can talk and talk and talk. But I sat there at a complete loss for words thinking about the notion of reentry, because to reenter something mean, you know, when you're driving down the highway, right, you're driving down 90, you get off, you get gas you reenter back on the road, you were on, you're already on. The organizational roads that we were all on have been repaved over the last three years, you know, there is no reentry back onto what the organization looked like three years ago, given what we all went through and learned and how we grew. I've been doing this asking this question too. And it'd be interesting for your group, you know, your audience to think about this. Think about how many people in your organization, what percentage of your organization joined since March 2020. Because they don't even have a pre pandemic version of your organization to try to, quote, settle back into write this today is what they know as the organization. And so it's interesting when we talk about change, right? We use this framework of a current state of transition state and a future state. The current state is how things are done today, that transition is that messy, ambiguous, unknown, clunky part of bringing change together. That future state is what we're aspiring to get to, you know, the benefits and improvement in performance for the organization. The current state for workplaces is not pre pandemic, it's today. It's the digital capabilities we're employing right now. It's our whole new notion of inclusion and belonging, its attention to customer expectation is then demands in today's world, not February 2020. And so yeah, to me, it's it's an opportunity for us to integrate what we learned and what we did. You know, think about all the things we did that we would have told you were impossible. In February 2020, we would have said, proceed as a firm, right? Our our core offering is a three day it's a, it's a three day certification program, you have to bring a project you're working on, as you learn the process and tools, you apply it in real time. We have folks from the HR community come in all the time, right to roll out new learning management systems, or to roll out global career architecture and learn how to apply the methodology to that change. They're bringing, well, it was all in person. We had never delivered a virtual program. Because as the person who led and you know, the product portfolio, I said over my dead body, well, we, because there was such an experiential component. We did treasure hunts, we had white male flip charts all over, it was so experiential, that we said, how on earth might we replicate that in a virtual environment? And then we had to. And so we're not going to undo those things that we proved we could do and the capabilities we we developed. So
yeah. It is fascinating what we what we have been able to accomplish and how we can look at things now. Now, Tim, one of the things you talk about are two sides of successful change. Yeah, can you tell me what you mean by that?
Tim Creasey 11:14
Certainly. And it's a framework we use to help people wrap their heads around the that human side of change what change management addresses. And so we call it the unified value proposition. If you want to read an article on it, you can Google that every change starts with a reason, right? What why we undertook this effort to begin with improvement in performance, it could be an external driver, or an internal driver, could be a goal or an aspiration, something that's happening today. But there's a reason for change. There's success at the other end, what we're trying to achieve and what we've set out to improve as an organization or as a team. And then in the middle, we describe that notion of a current a transition in the future, right, the current state, the transition state, the future state. Now there's one side of that current transition futures the technical side, it's where we design, develop and deliver the technical solution, that's going to meet the need to issue opportunity we have in front of us. And when I say technical, it doesn't have to be technological, right, it doesn't have to be technology, the executive team at ProSite, we rolled out a new set of values at the beginning of 2020 to six words with we statements that describe what they each mean, underneath those six words, and the associated we statements that describe what it means to show up that way, that was the technical solution of the new values. So that's the technical side design, develop and deliver a solution that meets the issue or opportunity in front of us. The other side of the coin is the people side. And that's where we design develop, or we ensure and help our people to engage, adopt and use, whatever that solution is we bring. So design develop deliver is one side of the coin. The other side of the change coin is that people actually engage adopt and use it. And I bet you every listener of your podcast can remember an example in an organization they were part of where we designed, developed and delivered a perfect solution that nobody adopted and used. All right, we got the old one and a half percent user uptake. And that just doesn't create the change. It doesn't bring the value we expect when we invest time and energy in that change. And, and like I said, I think the old value system that people side of change, we thought, wow, we can just tell people to do it, right? I just send them an email to do it, I don't need to address that side of the coin, all I need to do is make sure that the technical side of the coin is perfect and right. But we know the right answer is not enough to build the commitment and overcome the obstacles and resistance we're going to experience. So those are the two sides technical side design, develop, deliver people side, engage, adopt and use. When they both come together, we achieve successful change.
But we can't have one without the other.
Tim Creasey 14:01
We tried, right? I actually, you know the technology spend at the end of the 90s I actually think is one of the reasons this discipline of change management has grown so much over the last two decades. Because everybody's rolling around in capital excited about new technology, you put a $10 million solution and you get 2% user adoption and what do you do? You find the next $15 million technology solution to stick in place, right? There is a lot of what I called solutions without results. And it's because we forgot about the people. That's kind of
going back and finding out why rather than come up with the next one. Yeah, spend time spend the time to figure out what could we do differently and get feedback from the people that you're trying to, to help the people were wondering. Right, yeah, right. Because one thing that I'm seeing too is because of the change and because of so many, you know companies are having to let people We'll go and things are not happening fast. There's a challenge with transparency. Because, you know, how do you explain the why sometimes when it's really a challenge for leadership to know, how much transparency, can I have here with people? What do you what's your thought about that?
Tim Creasey 15:18
Yeah, I think you're right. There's this tension around transparency and as either a leadership team or a project team feeling like we need to have enough for the right answer, before we tell anybody about it. I think that there's a I think that's kind of in flux right now, as we come out of this pandemic response and really evolve our organizations. And one of the conditions of the future of work that I talked about, in addition to the, you know, the involuntary digital transformation, and that the people side can't be unseen, is the idea of shifting success horizons. And so I think, right, pre pandemic, maybe there was a five year horizon, we're looking out on March, April, May 2020, it was like a five hour horizon, five day horizon, right. Can we just get through this week? I think that's softening a bit. You know, I think as leaders and project teams, we're looking five quarters out now, maybe. But I think as the speed at which we change gets faster and faster, right? Iterative and adaptive change, by necessity, requires greater levels of transparency around that that information. And so at the prophesy executive team, we apologize in advance for being overly transparent, knowing that sometimes it can get you in trouble, but we'd rather run the risk of being overly transparent and have people have access to the information, then, then, I guess be in the other situation where people are, are left guessing or making up answers.
Yeah, yeah. And when they start doing that they There are way too many questions that come into one said that you begin to feel insecure,
Tim Creasey 16:58
if I don't, if the answer is not there for me, what do I do? What would I do I start to make it up, right? Or the imagination starts to run wild. And so much of our approach around the people side of change is really around how do you provide people the answers they need when they need them, as they're on this change journey? And so we connect back to you know, one of the comments you brought up is that people just really need to understand that why? Well, that's actually the very first building block and process approach awareness of the need for change. Why why now? What if we don't why this instead of that, you know, if you as a manager can answer those four questions for your people. Why why now? What if we don't why this instead of that, if you've really internalize those answers, and can share them, now you are that ally of change, that agent of change in the organization? And that's how things get started? Is is answering that that why question?
Yeah. Which really brings to mind what what are managers doing, like leadership is telling managers and they get probably 90% of what's going on, you know, because some things may not be able to be shared, but how do they help with their team? You know, with especially the people side of it, how do they help people deal with change? What are some of the strategies that people can take away from this? And say, Ah, yeah, I really ought to do that with my team or with on my one on ones?
Tim Creasey 18:21
Yeah, great, great question. I go, there's a couple of different answers here. And I think it's because of the unique role managers play related to the change that happens in organizations. And I kind of my backgrounds in economics. So maybe we can talk about macro change and micro change inside of an organization, right? Macro change are those big projects, their initiatives, programs, portfolios, they probably have cool code names, you know, they have resources and timelines, your, as a manager, you are an ally of bringing that change to life with your direct reports. And, like I said, prophesies done a couple of decades of research to understand the moving parts of successful change. And sure enough, the role of the people managers in one of those critical variables, and support of those macro changes. What we found in the research is kind of five roles of the people manager in times of change. And what's neat is there's an acronym to help us remember, Clark C L A RC we use Clark because of Clark Kent, right? Superman is a and we all know that the people managers in our organizations are the superheroes in times of change. So how do we help our people manager step into that superhero of a Change Catalyst? The first key is communicator, you have to be the voice of change. And in particular, what we found in the research is employees want to hear organizational messages from somebody at the top. They want to hear what does it mean to me, my team how our work happens. They want to hear that from the person they report to. So that first see if Clark is the communicator a special Leave those personal reasons and personal impacts, the L of Clark is liaison. And that's really the conduit between the people who have to bring this to life and the project team. So bringing feedback and information, both directions from the project team, to our people and from our people back to the project team. So that's the liaison. The A is advocate, you know, and your people are going to see it if you're paying lip service to it. And so part of your role as a people manager, if you're going to step into that advocate role, is that you're going to work through the change and what it means to you first. And so when we teach project teams and change managers how to engage the organization, we say, you know, what, the first thing to realize is these people, managers, our employees first experience, a change experiencing a change, and then advocates of that change with their people. So we need to help them through their own change journey first. So, communicator liaison advocate, the R is resistance manager, you know, our people managers are the closest to where that resistance occurs, they have the understanding of the what's really happening inside the organization. And so they're in the best position to understand and root out the root cause of understand the symptoms of resistance, and address them as well. And then the last C is coach. So communicator liaison, advocate, resistance manager, Coach, how do you help your people through that personal journey they're going to experience when the change comes to life in their day to day work, and their processes, their systems, their tools, their job roles. So that's kind of from a macro change perspective, how we empower and engage people, managers, and then on a micro change, that's those day to day conversations you're having with your people, managers, it's responding to customer demand, responding to a new vendor constraint. And managers, I think, you know, they're at the frontline of those micro changes. And that's where we really try to equip them to be great change leaders in and of themselves do so.
Yeah, well, that's essentially why we started better manager seven years ago was because that middle manager group, we're not getting the support the coaching that they needed to have to be because they were so pivotal in a company's success. And they're the ones that you said, are close to to the ground with their people to be able to then bring up to leadership, because sometimes leadership doesn't know exactly what's happening on the ground, because they're playing in a different sphere. So there has to be that kind of communication. I was
Tim Creasey 22:29
gonna say, you're being nice. And sometimes, because a lot of times,
I'm trying to be nice about that. Yeah.
Tim Creasey 22:36
Right. You know, that's, we want to pay our senior leaders to live in that sphere. And we need our managers to be that voice of the rest of the organization. Yeah.
And leaders need to prepare the managers in a way so that they can deliver the message. And, and as you were talking about, you know, people need to be authentic, if they're advocating, they need to be coming from a real authentic place, not just like lip service to what they've heard. And if they're not clear, they have to get clear. So that, you know, we and also say, we may not know everything right now, just like we used to do. You mentioned five years looking at five years, I remember doing consulting and you know, you do a vision for five years from now. Well, you just can't do that anymore. No, you can only do about a year, maybe two years. But things are changing so rapidly and everything else is changing that there. There's no more long term visions, you have to have a long enough as you can handle
Tim Creasey 23:32
for sure. That notion of leaders equipping and empower and managers, I think one of the biggest things leaders can do is provide managers with this space to go through the change. They're going to go through themselves before they step into being that advocate for the change, so yeah, creating space and time for the amount of change actually going on in the organization is a critical leader. Leader responsibility, especially today.
Yeah. And we need to over communicate. You know, that's, I think, something we learned during the pandemic. I just learned this statistic that 43% of people in companies feel invisible. And if we're not reaching out to those people, and then changes happening, we're really going to have a problem with retention, people feeling safe. And when people feel like they're seen in an organization, and their managers are giving them as much of a straight shooting answer as they can, you know, they'll feel much better and they'll be able to continue working.
Tim Creasey 24:34
Absolutely. Do you know Zach? Mercurio? No. He's somebody I have a bit of a professional crush on right now. His work is all around mattering. And the two sides of mattering, that I am valued, and I add value. And he has some really fascinating work on how both of those are essential components to me feeling like I matter at work. And like you said, that's a, if I don't feel like I matter, then I'm this change doesn't doesn't matter to me either. And so yeah, a troubling statistic but something that we all need to be attentive to both day to day. And when we're trying to bring about change, meaningful change in the organization. In your right, communication is critical. I wrote an article years ago about the difference between a telling plan and a communication plan. All right, because I'll bet you your managers end up seeing a lot of telling plans coming out from project teams, right, telling them what solutions we evaluated telling them what when we picked down on them what day that's gonna get turned on. A telling plan is all about, you know, is oriented from the project team. And what they've been up to a communication plan provides the right message to the right people at the right time through the right channels, to answer the question they have right then to help them keep moving along. So yeah, intentionality with the human, human side of each of these changes, I think, is where we get a lot of the traction we need.
Yeah. And, and I think everyone in organizations need to ask themselves, so. So what are our people going to be thinking right now? And what can I do to be able to address that? And what do I know, and what don't, I know, and to just be real with that, and, and just communicate as much as you can and reach out to people that are quiet, you know, that invisible group, you know, and we've, we really spend a lot of time in our organization on culture. And, and you really need to recognize people, you know, for what they do and appreciate people for who they are and what they bring to the table. And if we are able to keep up with that people feel safer, they feel seen. And we can move all this along. So much easier. But when people are in the dark, and they're remote, and they you know, and then all the struggles that everybody knows about, you know, do I go back in the office? Do I not go back in the office that just makes the water really muddy? So managers have a have a have a challenging time right now. And so what do you see are some of the adaptions that are made to support managers and change in this new post pandemic world that is still evolving?
Tim Creasey 27:16
Yeah, great question. How do we continue to support this crucial part of the organization, given these new conditions that our organizations are experiencing, we actually did a benchmarking study at the end of 22, to look at the top contributors to change success in this post pandemic world. So acknowledging that the Coronavirus still exists, but we are beyond responding to an unknown and into evolving our organizations. And the role of people managers is one of those top contributors to success. The adaptations that were identified, I thought were interesting. The first was support your people, managers as people, not just as managers, kind of what we were talking about earlier, right, that we need to honor and equip these folks as people first experiencing their own life journey experiencing their own changes at work. The second one is really around adaptations to enable more effective communication. So like you were talking about, how do we lean into virtual platforms, collaborative tools? How do we start to create the expectation of pole communication, not just receiving pushed communication within the organization? And then the third one is exploring more new, more flexible meeting formats and workload locations in this hybrid environment. So how do we get more thoughtful around the way we spend time together and spend our time when we're working in meetings, on the things work on intentionality of agenda, you know, some of those just real common approaches to getting better with engaging the people I work with, that are even more important in this new distributed world that we're living in?
Yeah. Because, gosh, we're seeing a lot of, you know, you go from meeting to meeting on Zoom. And it's very different than when we were, you know, doing things in person and you were able to walk down the hall, have a conversation, meet somebody somewhere, you know, even just in passing, and you learn things here, we have to be so cognizant of how all that's working. Yeah,
Tim Creasey 29:25
it's wild. Right. And we, we've, internally, we talked about, you know, we proved we could do almost anything virtually, and gathering matters, right? It matters. And so how do we make sure that when we are sharing space, we're elevating and getting the right things out of that time together? Because nobody wants to get called into the office to sit on a virtual meeting. If we're coming together, let's make good use of that time together.
And how do we get together virtually to make use of that for people that aren't coming into the office? So many questions still, yeah. to be answered, Yes. So this has been so helpful. Tim, Ken, if people want to learn more about the organization, what's the best way for them to do that and connect with you?
Tim Creasey 30:12
Yep. So pro psi, it's short for professional sciences, the company P R. O S CI, the pro site website has loads of blogs, free webinars, there's actually one just yesterday about reframing resistance. And they have the replay up there already this morning. So loads of free content there as well as you can learn about our training programs. If you go to pro psi on YouTube, the pro side channel there, there's really a whole bunch of great short video clips around the people side of change the role of managers resistance, how we bring the people side and technical sides together. And then I'm most active on LinkedIn. So Tim creasing on LinkedIn is where you get the bourbon inspired stuff, which sometimes is even more fun than these midday podcasts.
Right. Well, that would be great. Yes. Love to make podcasts in the afternoon. And we could have a drink together. Yeah. Yeah. Well, this has been wonderful. And I'm sure people will reach out to learn more, lots of good resources there. Thank you all for tuning in. If you want more information about podcasts, if you have ideas for a podcast, please reach out to me Wendy at better manager.us. And our site is better manager.co. And you can go and you can connect with us on that. So on this podcast, we want to have wonderful guests that are going to give you information to make life easier. And I think Tim did a great job today talking about change. So I hope this will be a tool that you can put in your toolkit as you go forward. So thank you again, Tim. It's been a pleasure.
Tim Creasey 31:54
Thank you, Andy. Goodbye, everyone.
Have a very happy and successful day. Take care. Bye bye.
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