"The only thing we're certain of round here" comes the exasperated cry "is change". If you haven't said it yourself, you've certainly heard someone else say it, because it's true. To remain competitive in every sense, organizations need to adapt constantly and respond to the ever changing needs and demands of the stakeholders. Consequently we have seen a rise in demand for courses in Change Management. The provision of these courses is a natural enough response, but at DBA we have evidence that suggests that the provision of Change management courses alone can in fact blind organizations to the real role of the training department in the management of change. Organizations should in fact be using trainers as agents of change rather than just as deliverers of courses.

The blind spot

This blind spot occurs because many organizations take a limited view that "if we've got Change Management on the training agenda, then we're doing all we can". While adding such courses is a step in the right direction, it only addresses a small part of the situation. Because these courses are often only available to people at managerial or supervisory level they focus on the development of a particular set of skills for a particular group of people. The wider issue of helping the whole organization handle change is ignored. Organizations which take this approach tend to develop recurring patterns of failure each time change is introduced because they are only addressing one small part of the total change process.

How training should be involved

The process of change is relatively complex, and the training input requirements will be different at each stage of the change process. At DBA we have successfully introduced organizations undergoing change to the following change adoption model - it shows the different training input required at each stage of the change process.

  • facilitation/development of strategy for communicating about change
  • awareness building workshops
  • facilitation of cross-organizational discussion of problems/experiences associated with change
  • dissemination of ‘success’ stories associated with change
  • facilitation of feedback of ideas/information to top management
  • training for managers in how to recognise/manage people’s reactions to change
  • support/counselling/coaching for those experiencing difficulties
  • identification/discussion of development needs associated with change
  • training/coaching/feedback to support development
  • focus groups/peer support groups to share learning/experiences
  • Assimilation of learning and adoption of required behaviours, knowledge and skills
  • Integration and recognition of required behaviours, knowledge and skills as the new ‘norm’

From theory to reality

This model clearly illustrates the breadth of the role that training has to play in the successful acceptance and adoption of any change. If this role is accepted, trainers will undoubtedly be seen as agents of change. But this in itself must be recognized as a change with which can come all the associated rejection and inertia. Training and HRD professionals therefore have a significant role to play if this change is to be brought about. Look again at the above model. Use it to help your organization move towards accepting that you should act as an agent of change. The model requires you to be proactive. It demands that you change your behaviour. It requires a change in how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. It presents a challenge to which you should rise if you want your organization to thrive in this environment of change and if you want to help training achieve the boardroom profile it deserves. Change can offer trainers many opportunities.