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Managing Change

When it comes to facing fears about change, start by separating the facts from the fiction.

Technology, sustainability, mobility and more. Fleet managers are facing change like never before. Most of us have taken some training in change management at some point in our careers, but a refresher course with practical, hands-on solutions holds a lot of promise to deal with today’s challenges.

The simplest definition of change is “the act of becoming different.” Just as ice turns to water, our current operating environment is shifting to something new—an environment that we need to invest time in understanding and adjusting to. Change management helps align an organization’s people and culture with changes in systems, strategies and structures. It does not eliminate the barriers to change, it seeks to minimize their impact.

Accepting change

These barriers to change are very real and cannot be ignored. Many change initiatives fail because people hide behind barriers and refuse to accept change. I came across a practical exercise years ago while working with NATO that I have used on many occasions to identify and overcome barriers. It is known as “The Fact or Fiction Method.”

The fact or fiction method

Think of a change facing the fleet industry—one previously mentioned is the shift from fleet management to mobility management. We are not even completely sure what that means but as a rudimentary explanation, transportation options are increasing well beyond traditional vehicle ownership.

Organizations today might consider ownership, leasing, rental, pooling, allowances, public transport or ride sharing to meet their mobility needs. Within an organization, it is important to understand the relationship between these options and the impact that introducing new options might have on existing programs.

For example, if you change the definition of “car allowance” to allow for a “mobility allowance,” will this become a more attractive option for employees and drive them away from wanting to use a car at all?

Focus on the facts

With so many questions, it would be normal for employees to be nervous about an organizational change from fleet management to mobility management. An organization introducing such a change would be wise to engage in a conversation with stakeholders and ask them to name the barriers they see that might prevent such a change from being successful.

For each named barrier, you then ask whether the statement is a fact, or fiction. For each fact, you have employees come up with two or three strategies to deal with it. For each fiction, you simply restate it in a positive way, so it is no longer a barrier to the proposed change.

If we take the mobility example, following these steps might result in the table below.

Although this might be overly simplified, it is meant to illustrate that there are practical and useful steps you can take to lead change in your organization. The next time you face a major shift and are hearing pushback from employees, ask them to voice their concerns and turn these barriers into facts or fiction that can be dealt with accordingly.

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