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  • Eugene McGarrell

Want to manage change successfully? Throw away the executive theories and connect with your people f



When we are charged with a change project, the first thing we often run to is the plethora of management books on change (well that's me anyway). But first we need to connect with the people who will experience that change. Leaders, the people they lead and their customers need to be prepared for that change if transition is to be successful.

What is clear is that the “future of work” means we will experience significant changes to our ways of working, our work environments and the people we experience in the workplace.

Humanising the change process is key to successful transition.

We have all been subject to organisational change at some point in our careers. What is clear is that the “future of work” means we will experience significant changes to our ways of working, our work environments and the people we experience in the workplace.


Many of us have a portfolio of change stories that did not go well. Few of us have stories we can tell where change delivered the desired results, maintained operational performance and enhanced job satisfaction of everyone in the organisation.


The drivers for change are varied. New leaders want new structures to create their mark, Boards unhappy with financial results are sold organisational change by the CEO as a panacea to the problems and managers drive a change agenda to avoid the hard performance conversations with their people. How many of us have been distracted by change agendas that were not needed? Distracted from the real work, distracted from delivering.


An industry is getting fat on the array of change tools, strategic mapping models and project planning software. Change for change sake is boosting the consultancy market but it’s ripping the soul out of organisations.

Change for change sake is boosting the consultancy market but it’s ripping the soul out of organisations.

When our car breaks down, we don’t send it in to the mechanics for new upholstery to make it look better. Structures, brands, tag lines and process changes are just the theatre of change. It makes the organisation look better. But these changes without paying attention to the engine of the organisation are expensive and useless.


The people need to change. And the people don’t change because you ask them to. They change because they feel (not see) the need to change and they maintain agency in that change process.


People are inherently smart. They can smell BS from a mile away. They feel when something is not right. They pick up the cognitive dissonance in any CEOs “case for change” slide deck presentation and their vocal, verbal and non-verbal communication. They know when they are being sold a lie.

People are inherently smart. They can smell BS from a mile away. They feel when something is not right.

Leaders who align intelligence with status undermine the engine that drives the organisation. Leaders who underestimate their people will never see the pure beauty of a well-oiled machine. The key to organisational transformation is not found in MBA modules on strategy; the key is found in the way in which people have agency in their own transition.


In my last blog I shared my experience of Transition Hub’s foundation week. I was impressed with their model of personal transition in the context of exponential change in the workplace due to technological, economical, political and environmental shifts that are being experienced and foreseen.


I was so impressed I decided to train as a Transition Hub Coach. And I am so glad I did.

Their program is tailored for the uniqueness of each individual. They’ve designed their approach to meet each person in the emotional place they happen to be. Their attention to detail, their professional values and their sense of creating human connection and community combine to make the foundation course, masterclasses and coaching experience feel like it was designed specifically for the unique set of circumstances of each participant.

Dare I say it? It is a human centred model that supports people transition and thrive.

My own recent transition had been an emotional roller coaster. We tell ourselves we are not the role we carry out at work, but when we no longer have the trappings of status work provides, we grieve (well I certainly do). We grieve the loss of human connection; we grieve the sense of making a difference and we grieve the “respect” of colleagues and stakeholders.

Change starts with grieving the past.

So logically we know we are not our jobs. But we need to make that transition emotionally in order to design our futures and in order to create new possibilities that were hidden from us in previous incarnations.


Change starts with grieving the past. We need to process the emotional loss that comes with any change. Process the emotion, feel it and come out the other end. For some distractions including binge watching Netflix through to binge “drinking” (insert any other vice) can keep the emotions at bay but unless they are felt and processed then the new potential cannot be realised.


Change or transition may not be as drastic as losing a job, ending a relationship, moving overseas or being promoted. Change may just be a new way of working, joining a new team or getting to know a new boss. If we don’t feel we have self-agency in that transition, then that experience is likely to reduce our potential. When we have a sense of self-agency then we feel more in control and more likely to create new opportunities to honour our potential.

When we have a sense of self-agency then we feel more in control and more likely to create new opportunities to honour our potential.

So, if you’re thinking of leading a change initiative, if you’ve been charged with driving change or if you’re seeing change on the horizon then ask yourself, “how will I manage the transition for me and my people”.


The first order issue for successful change is the human condition. Neglect this and your change will not succeed. All the MBA strategic models in the world will not help unless we humanise the change process.

The first order issue for successful change is the human condition.

And in case you didn’t know, change is coming faster than ever before.


If you are interested in learning more about Transition Hub and how they can help your personal, team or organisational transition then just message me on Linkedin or email eugene@eugenemcgarrellconsultancy.com

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