There is one question folks are probably wondering about but won’t explicitly say when changes are introduced that may impact them. That question is, “what’s in it for me?” As an organizational change leader, this is a question that you need to be ready to answer and spend some time explaining to those impacted by the change. This is to create buy-in to make the change and transition process smoother. It’s also the right thing to do.

I’ve worked on and have led several campus information systems projects at UCSB since 1996, including an electronic medical records system, a system for managing international students and scholars (SEVIS), and an advising system used across the campus. One lesson I’ve learned in implementing these systems is that change can be emotional and psychological. When a new system or process is introduced, it can pose a threat to the people impacted. The threat can be to their livelihood and, even worse, a threat to their identities. Some folks are attached to certain processes and certain systems. These systems and processes can represent their reputation as experts, part of their daily routines, and areas of ownership. When those systems and processes are changed, their identities are challenged.

So the next time you have the opportunity to introduce changes to your workplace, think about this question of “what’s in it for me?” from those impacted by the change. Take time to understand them. Get them involved in the process. Don’t make a mistake as a project manager of neglecting the human aspects of change. It’s not all about tasks, budgets, and deadlines.