If you preach it, practice it

- April 2023

If you preach it, practice it 

When I was first considering the career jump to Change Management I was told, “You can apply change management to basically anything, professional or personal. When you start to think about it, change management is in everything we do”. I remember thinking, ‘Okay cool, great sales pitch, change management is super, got it’. I continued to explore options, chat with people in the industry, hear about their experiences and did this thing we all do when wanting to find out information and ‘googled’ it. It was then that I decided yes, in fact Change Management does sound very cool.  

I spoke to my executives at the time about wanting this change, which they supported, then I took the leap and dived headfirst into the deep end of my first change role on a whole of Federal Government initiative (which was also my first consulting job) – nothing major, just a minor shift (please note the sarcasm). Anyone who knows me, knows I cannot swim well. I’m a hold my nose while I jump in the pool, doggy paddle kind of gal. However, with the support from those on the project, I was able to keep my head above water, build my resilience, develop core skills and I grew my career/became a stronger swimmer because of it.  

I think there is something notable in comparing a career journey to swimming. Some people will stay in their own lane, continually striving towards personal bests. Some actively seek out team environments like relay challenges. Some splash around thinking they’re really talented but just cause a scene frustrating people around them. Others become swim teachers, sharing knowledge in how to best survive the water and achieve goals. And some just float around not really having any direction but are okay going with the flow. There’s some seriousness that can be taken from Dory’s advice and no matter what kind of swimmer/journey you’re on, “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming”. 

A year later and a lot (I mean A LOT) of learnt lessons, I had somewhat found my groove, improved my strokes and could call myself a changie. I also found myself in the quandary of potentially joining a new firm, Parbery. This had me pondering that all important question that is thrown at us at such a young age and way too often for my liking of “What do you want to be when you grow up”? Uhhhh, happy?! But actually – after a year as a changie, am I going to pursue it? Yes. Then basically my two options were, I could keep doggy paddling, slowly working my way to the deep end in the company I was comfortable with, or I could do one big kick, pushing myself and moving out of my comfort zone – I thought about this choice for a long time.  

One, two, three – kick! 

Once my decision to move was made, I came back to that first insight I was given and applied the change management experience I had gained to my impending move. My ‘business case’ or scope was simple really, ‘how can I make this change to a new company successful?’ 

I came up with a plan of how I was going to navigate the waters which involved transitioning out of my current state and moving into my future state. I analysed the impacts this change would have and strategised how to realise the benefits that came with my choice to move. I developed a timeline and schedule of activities that would need to take place to make this transition smooth. Signing the contract, start date, notice period, hand-over etc. A much-needed sun filled holiday with crystal clear waters (you know, all the essentials).  

There were communications that needed to occur in a strategic way informing people and the two companies of my decision. Canberra is a small place, and no one wants to burn bridges. I evaluated the stakeholders who this change was going to affect. And big surprise, the key stakeholder was me. Conveniently, I know myself pretty well. I came up with strategies that would support the transition and ease those first day (go-live) jitters. I held my breath and put it all into action. 

While I didn’t put together a pretty PowerPoint that pulled all of this together, the details were running through my brain for weeks. 

Change management is a whole lot more than what I’ve just described. Though breaking it down simplistically I guess that very first piece of advice I was given was right. Aspects of change management can be applied to almost anything we do. Parts of my personal change aligned with that of the processes we would implement in the professional world. Right from the decision-making process through to turning up at the new company, Change Management was at play. I scoped the scale and complexity of the change. Analysed the impacts the change would have. Assessed how ready I was for the change. Evaluated the stakeholders. Measured the benefits. Developed strategies and tools that would make this change successful.  

Almost a year later, and after a quick evaluation of the change to Parbery, I can confidently say I made the right choice. The people here are warm and friendly, accepting me easily. There’s interesting Government projects and exciting internal business developments in progress that will create opportunities for me to be able to grow. Their sustainable business growth plan and core values align to my personal beliefs. And my career journey and how I would like to get to my goals are always at play. So, I guess you could say that this was a successful change project. Ohhh and that my swimming is becoming stronger every day. 

By Taylor Shepherd

Change and transformation at Parbery