Harnessing the Power of Collaboration, Empathy, and Practical Training to Navigate Change

Mar 6, 2024

Maria McCauley’s journey with the Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO) program is a testament to the transformative power of experiential learning. As a Business Relationship Manager, Maria found herself facing the challenge of a multi-faceted change management effort. Seeking a solid foundation to navigate this complex terrain, she turned to HDO’s Change Management Certificate Program. In her role in Enterprise Business Information and Technology Solutions at The University of Texas at Austin, Maria understood the plan needed to go beyond just training.

“Training by itself is not going to get us to adoption and that’s essentially what we were trying to do,” emphasizes Maria. “We were trying to minimize people’s distress during this period of change and their loss of productivity due to that stress. To reduce anxiety, we needed to involve people in the process from the beginning.”

Introduced to the HDO program by her manager, LeeAnn, who had taken multiple HDO professional training courses, Maria saw an opportunity to enhance her skills and contribute to her organization’s success. She was drawn to HDO’s curriculum and intrigued by the prospect of learning from experts who had firsthand experience in their fields.

“I didn’t come in with a lot of expectations,” Maria reflects. “I just knew I needed something tangible, something I could hold onto—a way to explain change management to others.”

The HDO Experience

As Maria delved into the Change Management Certificate program, she found herself immersed in a diverse cohort of professionals from various backgrounds. From education to insurance to construction, each participant brought unique perspectives to the table. The collaborative environment fostered rich discussions and provided valuable networking opportunities.

“You kind of bond with your classmates,” she notes. “I got to test theories and ideas with objective people who gave me feedback. And, you have a little mini cohort to tap into after the program.”

What set HDO’s program apart for Maria was its hands-on approach to learning. From interactive exercises that simulated real-world communication challenges  to practical examples.

“It wasn’t just theory,” she explains. “I physically felt the exercises—it’s not just an intellectual exercise.”

The faculty at HDO played a crucial role in Maria’s journey, particularly Art Markman, whose energetic teaching style, storytelling, and interactions left a lasting impression. She enjoyed the lively back and forth of conversations and questions with her instructors and found that the industry professionals brought a level of charisma and passion to the program.

 “The industry folks have diverse experiences,” Maria observes. “They bring this sort of gravitas as far as, really deep knowledge. They have a real-world perspective that’s dynamic and engaging.”

Maria MaCauley

Maria's HDO Communication Exercise Experience

“One of the things I will never forget about the HDO program was in the communications course. We got to physically experience how communication can break down and how hard it can be to know what’s important to communicate and when. For the exercise, there were four roles. There was a person who was the looker, who saw a structure that had been built and had to describe it to the communicator, who then had to go back and describe it to the builder who was trying to replicate that structure with a set of blocks. And then there was a person who got to observe across all three of those roles. And it was just incredible. It was the experience of feeling the feelings when you thought you had the information and then you try to convey it to somebody and it’s not everything they need.”

Benefits of Training in Tandem

Maria’s partnership with her manager and colleague, LeeAnn, further enhanced her HDO experience. Together, they navigated the complexities of change management within their organization, drawing from their shared learnings at HDO to drive meaningful transformation.

“We had a shared experience of working on projects together and also this shared experience of getting the HDO classes,” Maria explains. “It’s easier to make changes when it’s more than one voice.”

Combing their HDO knowledge, Maria and LeeAnn provided a consistent tone for the project while also expressing their different perspectives. This approach resonated with the employees and drove greater collaboration among the team.

The Impact

Reflecting on her HDO journey, Maria articulated the program’s transformative impact on her approach to leadership and organizational dynamics.

“HDO gave me a foundation—a way to talk about change management that others could understand,” she says. “It’s not just about delegating tasks; it’s about getting the best out of your team and building a high-functioning culture.”

 One of the most significant takeaways for Maria was the importance of realistic expectations and empathy in change management. Recognizing the human element in organizational transitions, she learned the importance of offering support, patience, and grace to team members as they navigate change.

 “Standardization and testing procedures often call for people to follow a script,” observes Maria. “But when reality takes over, real life doesn’t have a script.”

This insight has been invaluable in her role, where standardizing processes and implementing new technology require careful change management strategies. What Maria discovered in HDO went far beyond her expectations. The program offered more than just classes; it provided an immersive experience that resonated with her on a deep level.

“It’s not just a class or reading material,” insists Maria. “It’s something you live through, something that stays with you.”

Maria’s success story serves as a compelling testament to the value of experiential learning and the profound impact it can have on individuals and organizations alike. With HDO, she didn’t just gain knowledge; she gained a transformative experience that continues to shape her approach to leadership and change management.

HDO Professional Training Certificate Programs

HDO’s Professional Training just got easier. You can now select from one of our four certificate programs, sign up for your first course and complete the remaining three courses within 18 months to earn your certificate. Additionally, by enrolling in a certificate program priced at $3,000, you’ll enjoy a 25% discount compared to the cost of each course taken separately.