Episode #14

Chatting with Rich Batchelor, ACMP Board of Directors President

with Dr. Linda Ackerman Anderson

Rich Batchelor, President of ACMP, has been in the change business for decades. In this candid interview, Rich and I discuss his path to this important role for the profession, and his insights about the most important guidance for change consultants today. Rich shares his passion for the change field and his thoughts about the future of the profession. Come join me to learn more about the person and the role Rich plays in supporting us all. 

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Video of Episode


4:19 – 7:06

Welcome to Ask Dr. Change.

7:22 – 10:03

I’m Dr. Linda Ackerman Anderson.

10:15 – 17:07

I’m happy to have you join me today to explore how to seriously up level your leadership and consulting

17:13 – 19:06

to transformational changes

19:17 – 22:03

all through conscious change leadership.

23:22 – 38:04

Welcome to today’s episode. This is a special episode where I have the opportunity and honor to interview Rich Batchelor, who is the current president of the Association of Change Management Professionals.

38:06 – 01:07:19

Let me read a little bit about Rich. So you know who’s going to be talking with you and sharing his wisdom. Rich Batchelor has been successfully delivering change for over 30 years across the globe. His passion for maximizing the benefits of change management is evident every time he engages with others. He has a master’s in change management and multiple other qualifications, adjunct and complementary to the change space.

01:07:21 – 01:44:03

He currently runs his own consulting and learning Practice is a part time professor and curator of the Toronto Change Days Conference. He thrives in navigating change, enabling, empowering and guiding clients to realize the possibilities of change management, to find their potential. After serving A.P. as a local chapter leader for many years, Rich joined the Global board in 2021, and after serving as treasurer and vice president, is excited to be taking up the role of president in 2023.

01:44:05 – 01:57:09

So Rich clearly has a long history in this field and we’re thrilled to talk with him today about what he sees currently and the future for the profession. Welcome, Rich. Happy to have you

01:57:09 – 02:16

Absolutely. Hello, everyone. Pleasure to be here.

02:10:16 – 02:43:04

it’s been an amazing day. I get so much energy just being around other people in the change space. And we’ve had a fantastic day with so much focus on not just what has been happening in change, but what’s potentially going to be happening in change as well. And I just I get so excited doing these things. So it’s been fantastic.

02:43:06 – 03:02:00

Gosh. Well, well, it was a long time ago. As my bio says, it’s over 30 years I’ve been doing this. But, you know, I’m fortunate to do what I love and love what I do in this field. But I started off I was working in the UK at that time for local government and some people might say the wrong place at the wrong time.

03:02:00 – 03:26:05

I’d say the right place at the right time. I was working as a manager in an office for the government and they were going to close a number of offices and sort of, you know, solidify and bring them together into one place and my office manager came up to me and said, You know, these people are not going to be too happy about this stuff, but people seem to quite like you.

03:26:10 – 03:54:07

Can you go and make them happy about this? And that was really my introduction to change management. No processes, no methods. It was go make people happy about something they weren’t going to be happy about, which probably is a bit of the story ever since. But that’s how I started off in that space and then really got traction from doing that work well and being successful and being given opportunities in so many ways to do these things going forward.

03:54:09 – 04:37:13

So yeah, that’s really how I started off and worked my way through a career in government to begin with. Before then, in my own company. that’s a really good question because I don’t think there’s one definite definition I would put of success. But for me, a lot of the work I do with clients, particularly now and have that internal clients in the past, etc., it’s been really about what they need, not necessarily what I think they need.

04:37:13 – 05:05:17

I think sometimes we can get to caught up in telling somebody what they need to experience with a change based on. I really want to be able to go and say, Well, well let’s sort of unpack what your needs are, then work out how to align with that piece. I always kind of go with a tagline of maximizing human potential, I suppose, because we do work in a space of humanity, you know, that’s part of the space you work and that’s why I love doing it so much.

05:05:19 – 05:47:06

So probably success for me would be realizing some potential from a group, an individual, an organization, whoever I’m working with at that point in time to to find out what, first of all, what they need to change, what that change looks like from all sorts of pieces, and then work with them to actually not just make that change happen, but make that change happen with them as well as part of that equation.

05:47:07 – 06:16:12

Sure. So I often use the word actually change enablement. Those are the words I tend to use a lot more because I like to position myself as enabling a client customer, whoever it may be, to actually achieve their potential. So for me, it’s about having that engagement piece. I think sometimes we can get forgetful that change management is not a transaction, or change management is far more than just a transactional activity.

06:16:14 – 06:45:08

So for me it’s about making sure I have that engagement to truly understand what the need is. And then from that, we we focus on understanding what the client, the person, the individuals, the stakeholders. I suppose if we want to get really into the the change management language of this, what is it that makes them tick? What is it that’s going to help them understand and the gain of going along this pathway?

06:45:12 – 07:49:08

And then what can I do to help them navigate this? So I’m very much somebody who is focused on that knowledge transfer, knowledge enablement, supporting the the group that I’m working with to be able to take things forward off their own steam after working with me rather than being somebody who’s just doing it for them or so it’s interesting because I think the key piece that comes out of it is that this is only going to get bigger.

07:49:10 – 08:20:23

I think that’s that was the overarching piece, and I agree with that because I think historically there’s been a lot of anchored activity in to, say, technology implementations for change varnish. But you know, and I totally understand that. But what we’re recognizing, though, is that we’re doing more and more work in cultural transformations, in organizational opportunities, designing businesses, even down to, you know, health and wellbeing, diversity, equity and inclusion.

08:21:04 – 08:51:03

This whole broader people based area that we focus on. And in what I personally think for myself, and then I’ll add some notes from some of the conversations from today as well. So you get both sides of this piece. For me, what I’m noticing is that we are going to be doing a lot more work with people beyond just learning how to do something differently, but learning how to be something different.

08:51:08 – 09:24:13

And I that’s that, that’s, that’s the way I see it’s going. And it’s fascinating because we have the the artificial intelligence, say, in technology. And that was some of the stuff that we talked about today coming up as some of the future. And what does that mean? And, you know, I go back and, you know, with no offense to yourself, you probably go back a few years as well to the times when people were saying, all this, all this i.t is going to remove the need for these jobs and we know we won’t need people doing things anymore.

09:24:15 – 09:50:20

And I kind of it never really happened. It never really came to fruition. But what happened was that the jobs changed, we evolved and I think that’s what’s going to be happening. So that, you know, when I say about people being different, it’s about that sort of behavior of, well, you know, what is maybe the difference between changing the outcomes versus the outputs that we’ve traditionally gotten?

09:50:20 – 10:20:12

So I think that’s where I’m looking at the stuff in a lot of the conversation we had today was highlighting the the use of artificial intelligence is one area to support this, but also recognizing that we’ve also having to reframe the work we do to be much more about supporting others, navigation of a change rather than taking away the ownership of the change in that we’ve maybe historically done and stuff like that.

10:20:12 – 11:23:09

So I find this fascinating, this piece and everything. Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure. Well, I think there is an overlap in the way that A.P. as an organization is going forward, because I see, you know, we’ve just started opening up work on the standard for change of management that we were very proud to publish. But eight years ago, you know, times have changed in eight years.

11:23:15 – 11:49:22

So as an association, we need to look at how we can change the way people use that and bring that into that much more behavioral based sort of supportive narrative that we need to be looking at and recognizing as well as things like the the new technologies, the new evolution in, you know, projects, directions and things that, you know, the agile word comes up and things like this.

11:49:22 – 12:21:22

It’s very much in these conversations. And I think for myself, in my own practice, the way I see this developing is much more around us, you know, enabling people to find solutions themselves. It’s almost like a coaching practice in a way. It starts that piece, peace coming in. And, you know, A.P. has done a lot of work with the International Coaching Federation of the the last few years to kind of recognize that overlap of space.

12:21:22 – 13:34:21

So maybe that’s what what we’re doing is we’re supporting that transition to coaching young people through the experience and helping them to find that what’s best for them rather than coming in and trying to solution nice and fix things. So yeah, yeah, certainly. Yeah, that’s yeah, I was going to say let me, let me, let me take the leaders first because I actually feel that with leaders we we are very quick to criticize them, but maybe we’re not really supporting them in the first place to be in a position.

13:34:21 – 13:57:20

So I do think as leaders and you know, leaders of in and with change, because I kind of capture all of that piece when I talk to this piece, we need to help them recognize they have a role in, you know, empowering and enabling the success to take place. It’s not about command and control anymore that that ship has long sailed away.

13:57:22 – 14:24:16

You can’t do that, you know, and and recognizing the expectation of younger generations in the workplace as well. And what that means is a leader I think is really important. And, you know, we were talking today about recognizing how to be attractive to younger generations in this change management space, because far too many of us have been doing this for far too long and we need to get new blood into the space very, very soon.

14:24:18 – 14:49:07

So I think that piece and that’s where leaders can play a part not just in their role to whether you call it sponsorship or acting with agency for the change or, you know, give the advocacy piece, which I think we need to sit down and spend time coaching them on what that means rather than trying to do, you know, template transformation of anything like that with a move that doesn’t work.

14:49:09 – 15:41:00

But I think I think beyond that, we need to work with leaders to help them understand their role in supporting the knowledge increases that are needed within the teams they lead and recognizing that they themselves don’t need to know everything. They just need to know that it’s there somewhere. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it’s an interesting one because you actually just gave one of my trigger words as well, which is interesting because champions is a trigger word for me and I’ll explain why that is.

15:41:00 – 16:03:01

Because I love the love, love the verb to champion, of course. But I get really prickly when people get labor champions for change, because I always think that that identifies them as the winner. The kind of like the champion, the winner of the change already. And we have so much of a battle between people feeling like they’re losing something and, you know, gaining.

16:03:01 – 16:24:22

I know that, says Steph. So I’m always very nervous about using that word. I think in in the stuff that I do. But but I also recognize whatever word we talking about, people who who play a part in, you know, advocating for the change, supporting it, talking about it, you know, labels, the labels, whatever, that sort of piece.

16:25:00 – 17:07:05

And I think that I think that they need skill sets that go beyond maybe what’s traditionally been given to leaders, because, you know, you just mentioned about facilitation skills. Facilitation skills are very, very unique in themselves. And I think there is a very strong demand for them to learn that facilitation is not controlling or chairing a meeting. So understanding that difference piece coming into that and then being able to recognize learning opportunities within a team and not trying to fix the learning, but helping that individual to discover what they need to do to fix that learning because we all learn differently, you know?

17:07:10 – 17:31:06

So I’m a very visual person. Don’t give me lots and lots of text. I switch off. But other people love to read and read and read lots of text. So what works for different people is going to be important on that stuff. So I think adding those skill sets in there and then I think there is a serious sort of deficit in leadership for compassion and caring and that sort of space as well.

17:31:06 – 17:53:09

And I use the word compassion versus empathy, even though I like to say empathy is something, but I almost feel empathy is maybe the second level after they’ve discovered compassion, maybe we shouldn’t be rushing them to discover empathy straight away. But, you know, discover a bit of compassion first that they are, you know, fellow workers and the people that they lead, etc., and everything like that.

17:53:09 – 19:01:21

So once they have that both, then they can maybe discover what it means to be more empathic about the situations as well. So, you know, take them that way. Yeah, well,

19:01:21 – 19:09:06

historically that facilitation has been to try and find answers what may be we need to find the questions first before we find the answers.

19:09:08 – 20:05:09

And sometimes that sometimes that’s the challenge. Anything. So I think in the consulting space, there’s there’s always been a little bit of a a to camp motto, and I’ll explain what I mean by this. There’s been those that do it for you and then those that help you to learn how to do it. And I think the second one is where I definitely sit, but I also think that’s where more consultants need to sit, because I think you do your clients a disservice if you just go along and do it for them because then never learn, you know, it’s that sort of piece.

20:05:14 – 20:33:03

So I think maybe it’s a little bit of a self awareness piece that needs to be done for clients, just not for any sort of consulting engagement. I think in the change space, the key piece is also about not trying to take on too much in one go. Sometimes we think we can, we can make everything happen for the client and sometimes we can’t.

20:33:03 – 20:55:02

It’s too much. And I think for ourselves, since I think we need to be a little bit more sensible because I’m hearing more and more about burnout and poor self-care and just exhaustion in the space with people doing 60, 70 hour weeks that are just not sustainable. And I think that’s because we’ve overpromised what we can actually do.

20:55:08 – 21:16:20

And it’s not that we don’t have the capability. I’m not saying that. It’s just do we have the time to be able to do that stuff that needs to happen. And sometimes, you know, that’s where we need to maybe step back a little bit in terms of, you know, when we engage with an actual client, be real, don’t be, you know, misplaced optimism can be overstated.

21:16:20 – 21:49:11

But we say on that thread. So maybe just thinking about that stuff and then I think from the actual doing the engagement piece, one thing that I think is very evident from my own experience over the last, you know, the pandemic really highlighted this a lot more with people sort of needs, shall we say, coming through. But, you know, even before that, I was starting to see the need for a greater level of explanation in the communication rather than just to in communication.

21:49:11 – 22:15:14

That said, we’ve done this, we’ve done this, we’ve done this. It’s like we’ve done this so that you can now do X or so that we can now work on Y together, whatever it may be that we’re actually focusing on. And I think that for me is really important because that’s part of reinforcing, that’s enabling the client to actually be able to take things forward.

22:15:16 – 22:36:01

That’s and so I’m seeing that as well. And I do recommend that. And I’ve had some conversations with folks where I’m seeing that opportunity. And then I think maybe a final comment just for consultants is keep on, keep on, keep on learning. You can never stop learning. Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking. You know it all because none of us do.

22:36:06 – 24:08:18

We all need to keep on learning. So keep that continuous learning open. Yeah. I’m so thrilled you mentioned that topic area because I there’s a multitude of pieces with that. So I actually love, you know, as we mentioned in my bio, I teach, you know, and I love working with the younger folks and to help them understand a lot of what they’ve never even thought about before, which is kind of fascinating as well.

24:08:20 – 24:36:23

But I do think we need to have the support mechanisms. And I know for many years myself, I’ve always offered myself up for mentorship and said, you know, every September ish, I’ll take on a couple of folks as mentors. And I know from an A.P. point of view, we’ve done this with a lot of chapters. There’s been a number of chapters that have created mentorship schemes for those, and I’ve been involved with the local chapter that way, etc..

24:37:01 – 25:07:03

But we do have to balance the amount of effort that people can give to this stuff because, you know, as you were just talking about all those hours that the consultants are doing, if you are doing some mentorship hours on top of that, will it be worthwhile? But I do think there is some potential for mentorship overall, and I know that we are exploring whether we support chapters in the mentorship program, whether we do something globally on that front, or maybe it’s a mix of that piece that we go forward with.

25:07:05 – 25:27:11

But definitely I think the the appetite is there from younger generations to learn from others, but also to be able to ask questions of people in a space that they don’t really have that many people to ask the question of because it’s not like you get to change management one on one in high school or anything like that.

25:27:11 – 25:47:12

So, you know, it’s, you know, where do you go to find those answers in questions? So I think there’s a lot of potential on that stuff. And I look back to my own experience. You know, I had some great mentors throughout my career, and I’ve got some great colleagues now who started off as meant is that of supporting me because I know I need support mechanisms in place.

25:47:16 – 26:41:13

I am not somebody who, even with all my experience, can go it alone all the time. I need people to turn to when I need help and support and just somebody to give me that reality check. Sometimes. Yeah, sure. So yeah, I do this thing of saying yes to things and working out how I can find time for it.

26:41:14 – 27:07:21

But I’ve had to learn how to be a little bit more self carrying over the last few years. But for me there’s a few things that I’m interested in personal professional development, shall we say, which is continuing to expand my understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion space, because I’m finding myself drawn more and more into that space in the change and the cultural change stuff that I’m doing.

27:07:23 – 27:44:00

So I think I, you know, I’m an advocate for that space, but I also want to learn more about that. So the space as well personally, but also from, you know, maybe a more sort of professional piece, I want to be able to find a way of navigating those difficult questions that always seem to pop up because I run my own business, but I am also advocating for the profession, this part of A.P. and I don’t want any sort of conflicts to come between those two pieces.

27:44:02 – 28:05:04

So that for me is almost a little bit of a I wouldn’t say a challenge necessarily, but something I want to be mindful of. And I want to be able to turn to others because, yes, I want to move. Professor forward with both what I do professionally as a company, what I do as an educator, what I do for my conferences when I speak, you know, all of that.

28:05:04 – 29:33:09

So the piece, but also with my A.P. role and, you know, the A.P. role as a person, it’s still a volunteer vote. You know, I don’t get any income for it or anything like that. So in so I’ve said that a balance, the number of hours that I give to all of these things. But I do think that’s an important piece to navigate because I want to show that you can still be professionally successful, was still finding the time to volunteer and support the professional development of the profession that we are privileged to be part of.

29:33:11 – 30:13:11

So I suppose my final comments and it kind of links in with a few of the pieces I’ve been talking about, but and it does go into A.P., I suppose overall with this piece is that having just mentioned about my continued growth in the equity diversity, inclusion space and all of that stuff, also recognizing the global diversity of A.P. membership and developing A.P., not just as a North American anchor, but as North America being the first step of many steps towards maybe not quite global domination, maybe that sounds a little bit evil and nuts.

30:13:13 – 30:36:11

But, you know, I’m talking about, you know, the global footprint that we need to recognize for what we do as a profession. And I think, you know, I’m fascinated. You know, today’s conference I was in, in London, we had 16 different countries represented in that conference, which is fantastic. I’m fortunate to lead a board that is the most globally diverse board that we have.

30:36:13 – 32:35:12

It will be challenging for meetings and time zones. But I’ve also said that that brings so many insights from Europe, from Asia and beyond. It’s just like, that’s fascinating for me. Yeah. Thank you.

32:35:12 – 32:38:03

Thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

32:38:11 – 32:54:06

Today’s subject is one of the key topics that we feature in our leading transformational change online program. If you’d like to learn more about leading transformation social change, go to beingfirst.com/LTC.

32:56:19 – 33:09:09

Thanks for spending some time with me today. I hope you gain some valuable insights for your work. Please send me your questions and challenges by going to askdrchange.com.


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