T&C Supervisor: House of Change

T&C Supervisor: House of Change

As a senior manager or T&C supervisor, dealing with change is an important part of the job. But why do people react to change in different ways and, as a people manager, what can we do to manage this? These areas will be explored in more detail in this article.

Let’s face it, change is just part of the process in financial services. On the face of it, that’s pretty negative comment as most people mistakenly regard change is a threat. In practice, we’d go backwards without it.

If you are a business owner or a T&C supervisor, one of your key tasks is to help ensure that working with change becomes part of your culture. People need to be willing and able to work through change. In reality, people experience different reactions to change at different times. So everyone who is managing this process needs to be able to recognise these different reactions and respond accordingly.

One way of doing so is sometimes referred to as the house change. When faced with change, people tend to go through four responses to it. These ‘states’ to change can be represented as different rooms in a house. This is represented below.

The four stages of change

The house change helps to develop our understanding of how people deal with change. For this to be successful, people need to work through the rooms or contentment, resistance, exploration and commitment. But as I mentioned, they will react in different ways and at different speeds. Some people, unfortunately, never complete the journey.

The first task is to identify where your people are. So how do you know which room people are in? (See below).

Strategies for managing people through change

Once you recognise where each individual is, the next step is to adapt your approach to help them move through the rooms from contentment through resistance, exploration and on to commitment. Here are some brief ideas on the actions a T&C supervisor could take.

For someone who is cosily tucked away in the room of contentment, it’s important to create awareness. Describe the problem and the reasons for the change. The key focus is that the ‘status quo’ will or must change and describe why.  At this stage, there’s no point talking about the benefits of changing because someone in this room doesn’t yet accept that there will be any change. The individual has to accept that change will affect them in some way before they will move on.  Provide information, acknowledge that is is normal to have some concerns and treat them with respect. Give them time to think about the position but recognised that their views may need to be confronted.

Once in the room of resistance, there is an acknowledgement that they can’t ignore change. But they’re far from having bought into it or decided to change anything. Be clear about the reasons for their resistance and allow them to let off steam. Discuss the position regularly and continue to reassure them that some people will find it difficult to change. Identify some quick wins, encourage, and focus on the positive side of change.

Offering coaching is unlikely to succeed in these two rooms as the need, first and foremost, is to change the individual’s mindset. As a minimum, they need to accept the change will happen and that it will have an impact on them. Without this, they may never move on and performance management – not development – may be required.

In the room of exploration people looking to get to grips with the change. Build on the quick wins, reward successes and encourage the sharing views on how improvements can be made. Offer reassurance, support and provide regular development and guidance where required. Work on a ‘one step at a time’ basis and keep things simple.

As people become more comfortable and familiar with the change, people will move into the room of commitment. By now, the benefits of the change should be more obvious. Measure progress and demonstrate business benefits. Provide support and development (but in a less directive way). In this room, identify longer term goals and continue to provide positive reinforcement. Don’t ignore these people because they may still slip back into the other rooms, especially if the change has not yet become ‘business as usual’, or they are left to their own devices.

These final two rooms are on the right hand side of the house. People in these rooms usually recognise the need to refresh or develop their skills and are generally positive about appropriate coaching, support and development from a T&C supervisor.

Going forward

The house of change provides a simple representation of the stages people typically go through when faced with change. It is also important to remember that people will go through these rooms at different speeds so just because you are in the room of commitment, doesn’t mean that everyone else will be.

If you want to know more about our services for T&C supervisors, click here.

Interesting article on dealing with change. Click here

If you want to know more about SM&CR, click here.

Remember, identify which room people are in and then determine how to tailor your approach. At a time when change is increasing regarded as the norm is – not the exception – there should be plenty of chances arriving shortly to practice this.

Ian Patterson

Author of the Chartered Insurance Institute’s J07 study text (Supervision in a Regulated Environment) and AF6 (Senior Management and Supervision)

Marie Patterson
Ian Patterson