Change Management: Not Just for Projects

  The SARAH change curve highlights the stages most people will go through while adapting to change: Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, and Health.  

The SARAH change curve highlights the stages most people will go through while adapting to change: Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, and Health.  

Often, when receiving requests to provide support or training on change management, a company is already amid a period of upheaval. This might be restructuring, downsizing, expanding or adjusting the way work is done. Regardless of the timing, it is beneficial for people to receive resources to support their roles- whether it is leading change or becoming a champion for change. However, it’s challenging to implement training to support change management when the change is already happening. To provide more value to your company, train your leaders and champions to incorporate change management techniques into daily practice rather than something that is turned on and off depending on current project load. To create resiliency in your organization, integrate these four easy steps into daily work:
Understand your own reaction to change.
Many have likely heard the much-referenced statistic from McKinsey and Company that 70% of organizational change initiatives fail. While startling at first, upon further reflection, many employees have no trouble remembering projects they took part of that just… fizzled away. How much of that falls to the company and how much of that falls to us as individuals? We will inevitably reach points in our careers where we need to champion a change initiative that we don’t fully support. What do you do in those moments? Do you complete tasks assigned to you and stay out of the rest? Do you get a seat at the table and bring up your thoughts and challenges? If you shirk back, it’s okay. Recognize your triggers and step up to ask questions to ensure a successful implementation.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Provide forums to share updates within your team. This may be a weekly team meeting, a daily huddle or during one-on-one conversations with individual employees. Are things status quo or is there an event on the horizon to inform a team before it lands on their laps as “the next big project” to drop everything and work on? Often, leaders don’t communicate the possibility of change because they don’t want to create a distraction or make people nervous. Provide enough time for people to react to a change or voice thoughts during a planning process that can derail a project if brought up too late.

Be honest.
As a leader, it is important to share your thoughts about the change with your team. When you first heard about it, did you think of potential roadblocks? What about the downstream benefits? It helps the team to know thoughtful planning took place. The message shouldn’t be given as “I’m not happy about this, but we have to do it anyways,” rather “here are some potential challenges I see and here are some of the ways we can work to get through them.” Honesty will bring the team together and encourage feedback to create best practices.  

Recognize emotions of change.
Everybody has different emotions regarding change. Some embrace it, some shy away and others might be angry. Most everybody will think about what this means for them and what they are giving up. Provide people with space to retreat temporarily from the change process and come back reinvigorated to move forward.
In the end, it comes to our own empowerment as leaders to keep a change process top of mind until it becomes an established habit. With consistent reinforcement, teams will push through the awkward phase of change and will be less likely to revert back to the old process. This reinforcement should not fall solely on your shoulders- engage your process champions to promote the work and reinforce their own engagement.   


Continuing the Conversation: Conflict Resolution

Missed the summit but still interested in learning more about conflict resolution? Listen to the full-version of our podcast episode with Matt Meuleners and Kaitlin Henze on this topic. 

Join us for the next summit on May 11th! Curt May of Axa Advisors will be our guest presenter. Join HR and Talent Professionals from around the area to share ideas and tools for developing and supporting talent within your organizations. Register for the event here

The Benefits of Developing Leaders in a Cohort


Developing leadership skills of managers is critical for organizations to thrive, adapt, and grow. While one-off programs or individual learning paths can move the needle, developing leaders in a cohort program like the Elevate Institute offers several additional benefits to learners and your organization:

  • Grow networks: the relationships established in the Institute give your learners access to different industry perspectives and best practices from a diverse group of leaders.
  • Connect concepts: learners build on concepts throughout the cohort to develop a deeper understanding of the interdependent skill sets leaders need to succeed in a complex work environment.
  • Peer support: cohorts enable learners to give and receive peer coaching and feedback throughout the experience, empowering your leaders to apply these skills at work.

Interested in being a part of the Elevate Institute? Registration is now open. 


Leading Change in Any Organization

AJ Watson, National Director of B.A.M. and FOCUS Training facilitator, shares some perspective on the mindset required to effectively lead organizations through change. In this video, AJ shares the importance of recognizing and assessing the marketplace as a leader.

Change leadership will be a key learning objective in the Elevate Institute. Contact us today to find out if you are the right fit. 

FOCUS Training Welcomes Liz Poeschl!

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We are excited to announce that we have added a new member to the FOCUS Training team! Meet Liz Poeschl, who will be our new Business Development Manager.

Liz joins the team from Froedtert Health, where she spent eight years in a variety of roles, from project management and clinic implementation to training and development for physicians, leaders, and staff. Liz graduated with a degree in Health Care Administration and Business from UW-Milwaukee and has her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Colorado-Denver.

In her new role, Liz will work to grow and enhance FOCUS Training’s professional market by providing training solutions to new and existing clients. She will also play a large part in launching FOCUS Training’s new Elevate Institute, a program designed to position skilled managers for director roles by equipping them with strategic leadership skills.

Listen Now: Conflict Resolution with Kaitlin Kenze

In our latest podcast episode, Matt Meuleners of FOCUS Training speaks with Kaitlin Henze of EmPowerHR to discuss the upcoming HR & Talent Summit on Conflict Resolution. This quick preview is an excerpt from the full podcast coming soon. 

Join us for our next HR & Talent Summit on this topic happening on Friday, March 16th at Colectivo Coffee (2211 N. Prospect Ave). Coffee and light breakfast will be provided. Register for the event here.

Now Launching the Elevate Institute: Skill Development for Emerging Leaders

Build your leadership credentials with FOCUS Training's Elevate Institute. This course is ideal for emerging leaders to advance their career into senior management. Participants build a strong network of professionals in the regional business community and develop strategic leadership skills.

Registration for the Elevate Institute opens on February 26th. To learn more or register, visit our website

Listen Now: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace with Guillermo Gutierrez

Missed the summit but still interested in learning more about diversity in candidate sourcing? Listen to our latest podcast on this topic. Matt Meuleners sat down with Guillermo Gutierrez, Senior Talent Development Consultant at R. W. Baird, to discuss diversity in the context of unconscious and conscious bias, how we define diversity, and other related topics. 

Join us for the next summit! Conflict Resolution will be the topic of our Talent Summit session happening on Friday, March 16th. Join HR and Talent Professionals from around the area to share ideas and tools for developing and supporting talent within your organizations. Register for the event here

Mini-Cast: Diversity in Candidate Sourcing with Amy Krenzke 

In preparation for our next HR Summit on diversity and inclusion in hiring practices, Matt Meuleners sat down with guest presenter Amy Krenzke to learn more about what she will discuss in depth at the summit. During this mini podcast, Matt and Amy discuss topics such as finding diverse talent, tackling the unconscious bias, and writing job descriptions that meet the needs of diverse candidates. Take three minutes to check this out!

Want to keep the conversation going on diversity in candidate sourcing? Join us for our next HR Summit on this topic on January 19th. Register for the summit here

Mini-Cast: Leading Change in Restricted Environments

In our first mini podcast episode, Matt Meuleners of FOCUS Training discusses tips for leading change in a restricted environment. Difficulties in communication can occur while leading change in a restricted environment, but there are ways to help employees deal with the emotional weight of uncertain situations. Click above to listen and learn about the differences between ambiguity and uncertainty, and why it's important to differentiate the two as a leader. 

To learn more about Change Leadership, join us for our next HR Summit on November 10th. Wendy Butler, Director of Organizational Development at Marquette University, will be our guest presenter. Click here to register for the event.

Reducing the Cost of Transition

In our latest video, Matt Meuleners of FOCUS Training discusses the increased cost of going outside your organization to fill a leadership role. Internal hires shortcut challenges such as clarifying roles on their team, establishing relationships, and navigating the corporate culture. 

To learn more about building leader capabilities, join us for our next HR Summit on September 15th. Heidi Brookes, Director of Organizational Development and Learning at Charter Manufacturing, will be our guest presenter. Click here to register for the event.

Accelerate Institute: A Participant's Perspective - Scott Juedes, City on a Hill

Get a sneak peek into what goes on inside the Accelerate Institute and learn more about the personal experiences from the participants. In this video, learn more about Scott’s journey through the Institute.

There is still time to register for the Accelerate Institute. The first session will be held on September 6th. To learn more, contact us today.