Rejecting Changes Gracefully

The process of reviewing changes can be painful at times. Some of the changes will be approved, but others will need to be rejected. When to reject? And how to do it properly?

Change rejection happens for a reason. The change is simply not ready. Various things can be wrong with it. To avoid ambiguity in your decisions, you need to lay a proper foundation for change approval or rejection in your change acceptance criteria. Once that is done, all that is left is to execute properly.

However, if a change does not meet the acceptance criteria, do you just put a big, heavy "rejected" stamp on top of it? That is certainly one option, but it might not work well in smaller and less mature organizations.

One of the challenges you might have initially, when setting up proper Change Management processes, is that rejection can be taken the wrong way by the people. They will feel bad that you hold them with their work until the CAB meeting, and then they will feel even worse when you reject their change.

The good thing to do in such situations is to avoid the word "reject". Replace it with the word "postpone". You essentially postpone the change, until all the criteria are met. If it is relatively simple, you can even make them a deal to issue this approval after all the missing documents are delivered to you. No need to wait for another CAB meeting.

If more work is required to bring the change to the proper standard, you should postpone it to another CAB meeting. If it is really urgent, you might schedule another meeting just to handle this approval. However, make it clear to he people coordinating that change, that by not having everything ready the first time, they use more time of everyone involved, than it is really necessary.

Successful implementation of processes, like Change Management, needs to take into account the human factor. It needs to deal gracefully with people taking rejection of their work personally. Handling this difficult aspect with tact can spare you a lot of trouble along the way.


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