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Change Management in the COVID-19 Era

As we have all been stuck at home and limiting our contact with the outside world these past few months, many of us have had to get used to a so-called “new normal.” Some of us are very fortunate to be able to work from home during this time, but we’ve still found the experience different, and for many, perhaps even jarring. Simply saying that life has changed is a vast understatement, which seemingly reinforces the idea that the only constant in life is change…  and this brings me to today’s topic: Change management in the COVID-19 era.

As consultants, we must embrace change by the very nature of our work. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for some), we don’t have the ability to stay with the same client forever, on the same project, doing the same thing. Instead, we live by these truths:

Our clients will change.

Our software will change.

Our methodologies will change.

With all this change, you’d think that consultants would be “Change Management” experts. However, I’m quite sure most consultants (especially supply chain and IT consultants) would agree that the majority of us are not change management experts.

Part of this problem comes from being an expert within the field and working with people who might be less familiar with your own processes and tools. Once you reach that level, you suddenly forget all the pain you went through to get there; there’s a well-documented disconnect between the experiencing self and the remembering self. To put it another way, everything seems so clear at the mountaintop that you forget how decidedly unclear it was before you started the ascent.

What is clearly visible to us can often be difficult for others to see (if it were easy for our clients to see everything that we see, then we’d be out of business). Likewise, many of us probably haven’t experienced change on the scale of our clients. Implementing a new tool and the new processes around it is a big deal; it’s a big change all around.

So, how exactly does all of this relate to COVID-19 and the quarantine life, you ask? Excellent question. I’m quite sure we’ve all experienced changes as we go to the store to buy groceries and other necessities. Not only are we getting used to the changes, but the employees of these stores are also dealing with things being different as well (and as anyone who has seen the retail store viral videos can attest, interactions in public aren’t always pretty or smooth).

Because of this, I know myself, my family, and my friends have all been extra patient when doing things that were once seen as “normal.” Yes, you may have to wait in line longer to get into a store or to checkout. Yes, some stores may require you to wear a facemask, but we should all keep in mind that things are different, things are changing, and we are all getting used to this “new” normal. If there is an important lesson that our current situation can teach us, it’s this – be patient. When things change it takes some time to get used to, and we are all still learning how to adapt at our own pace.

While there are a small few who certainly have been resistant to this change, the vast majority of society has dealt with it by being extra patient and understanding. With all the change that we’ve had to deal with, there’s no reason for us consultants not to be change management experts. Think about how you’ve dealt with the changes during this pandemic, both personally and professionally. You’ve definitely learned some lessons. Now, take those lessons and apply them to your next project and maybe you’ll be able to find your own “new normal” when it comes to change management.

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