Fearless change – taking your people with you on the journey
APM Conference jointly organised by People SIG and Enabling change SIG
London, 8 March 2023
This joint SIG conference tackled the complex problems of how people respond to change. Often change can expose hidden fears that stand in the way of enabling progress and these become a challenge for leadership, involving all the stakeholders, and requiring expert communication.
It is often observed that the organisation leadership, sometimes termed the “C-Suite” - plan great things, have a vison for change, yet the staff gathered around the water-cooler the day after the announcement are less than enthusiastic. The fears that surface include how do the changes affect their role, position, team or department, and how will they relate to others in the new regime. An important point then, is how should we begin to implement and enable change whilst talking on board the people aspects of the fears and interactions that will unavoidably follow? This conference explored the many detailed aspects which may arise in this context. The ultimate idea being that the change process should flow through without fear.
It’s not so much that the C-suite have no fear, but much more about the organisation as a whole embracing change without fear.
The conference was well attended with over 100 delegates and the venue at the Crowne Plaza, Kings Cross, was well appointed with a main meeting hall, a spacious foyer for coffees and exhibitions (with a sponsor- exhibitor) and further rooms for the parallel-session breakout topics which gave opportunity for in-depth specialisms, in the afternoon. Lunch at the hotel main restaurant was both delicious and substantial.
The material shared at the conference was highly informative and the knowledge gained is worth preserving. It may serve as engagement material for those wanting to know more on this topic. To that end, the organising team have set about establishing a “legacy learning package”, whereby the presentation slides are made available to anyone unable to attend on the day, in addition to which each talk is being captured in a separate article; these are peer-reviewed before publication to ensure accuracy.
This article is the first in the series, as an introduction, and will be followed by others as publication opportunity allow. There were eight main presentation sessions, as follows. Articles covering these will be published in due course.
- Overcoming the fear of change – Prof Stephen Carver (keynote).
- The neuroscience of change – Dr Carole Osterweil.
- “Project hacks” as quick wins to facilitate change – Trish Thurley and Christine Castle.
- Crowdsourced solutions to common change challenges – Donna Unitt and Ian Pickard. *
- The Change Ninja – Tammy Watchorn. *
- The soft skills of change – Marion Thomas. *
- Removing the “them and us” of change – Glenn Smith.
- Using Active Listening Panels to facilitate change – Christine Castle and Trish Thurley.
Plus a Wrap of the day / Key points / Q&A panel session to conclude the conference.
(* These three sessions were run in parallel, delegates were able to choose which they would attend).
The day’s proceedings were also opened and concluded with contributions from the SIG chairs, Donna Unitt, Enabling Change SIG and Teri Okoro, People SIG.
The breadth of the topic is evident from the range of talks, ranging from neuroscience to soft skills, change advocacy to defined tools and techniques. There is a wealth of material here, and the topics of the individual presentations frequently had touch-points where the material could segue into another talk.
The slides from all the speakers were made available to the attendees, as is the Active Listening Panel (ALP) toolkit. This complete collection of slides, articles and ALP toolkit comprises a legacy learning package which is aimed both at delegates, as an aide-memoire of the day, and at those unable to attend but who wish to learn more of this keenly important topic. More than simply making summarising the day, this article series will add colour and insight to the presentations delivered. So, come join us for the journey – this series of articles - into fearless change.
Dr Steve Walters FAPM
APM People SIG committee member, Conference lead organiser