Leadership Is Key in Change Management
Successful change management requires a large commitment from executives and senior managers, whether the change is occurring in a department or in a complete organization. A change effort cannot be optional. The new system will ultimately have to stand on its own feet, but every new system needs support and nurture.
Senior leaders in the organisation has a crucial role in implementing changes.
Establish a clear vision for the change management process. Paint a picture of where the organization will end up and the anticipated outcomes. Make certain the picture is one of reality and not what people “wish” would occur.
Appoint an executive champion who understands the change management process and make certain other senior managers, as well as other appropriate people in the organization, are also adequately involved.
Pay attention to the changes occurring.
Ask how things are going. Focus on progress and barriers for change management. One of the worst possible scenarios is to have the leaders ignore the process.
Sponsor portions of the change or the change management process, as an involved participant, to increase active involvement and interaction with other organization members.
If personal or managerial actions or behaviors require change for the changes to take hold in the organization, “model” the new behaviors and actions. (Walk the talk.)
Establish a structure which will support the change. This may take the form of a Steering Committee, Leadership Group, or Guiding Coalition.
Change the measurement, reward, and recognition systems to measure and reward the accomplishment of new expectations.
Solicit and act upon feedback from other members of the organization.
Recognize the human element in the change. People have different needs and different ways of reacting to change. They need time to deal with and adjust to change.
Senior leaders must participate in the training that other organization members attend, but, even more importantly, they must exhibit their “learning” from the sessions, readings, interactions, tapes, books or research.
Be honest and worthy of trust. Treat people with the same respect you expect from them. While the executive vision and support, clearly communicated, is important, it is not enough. More fundamental approaches to planning and analysis need to occur to encourage effective change management.
Assess the readiness of your organization to participate in the change. Instruments are available to help you assess readiness, as well as qualitative information from internal or external staff and consultants. Answer questions such as these. What is the level of trust within your organization? Do people feel generally positive about their work environment. Do you have a history of open communication? Do you share financial information?
These factors have a tremendous impact on people’s acceptance of and willingness to change.
If you can start building this positive and supportive environment prior to the change, you have a great head start on the change implementation.
Turn the change vision into an overall plan and timeline, and plan to practice forgiveness when the timeline encounters barriers. Solicit input to the plan from people who “own” or work on the processes that are changing.
Gather information about and determine ways to communicate the reasons for the changes. These may include the changing economic environment, customer needs and expectations, vendor capabilities, government regulations, population demographics, financial considerations, resource availability and company direction.
Assess each potential impact to organization processes, systems, customers and staff. Assess the risks and have a specific improvement or mitigation plan developed for each risk.
Plan the communication of the change. People have to understand the context, the reasons for the change, the plan and the organization’s clear expectations for their changed roles and responsibilities. Nothing communicates expectations better than improved measurements and rewards and recognition.
Determine the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) of the change for each individual in your organization. Work on how the change will affect each individual directly, and how to make the change fit his or her needs as well as those of the organization.
Be honest and worthy of trust. Treat people with the same respect you expect from them.
Effective change management can help you successfully implement any change necessary for your future prosperity and profitability.
You cannot over-communicate when you are asking your organization to change. Every successful executive, who has led a change management effort, in my experience, makes this statement.
I have never worked with a client organization in which employees were completely happy with communication. Communication is one of the toughest issues in organizations. Effective communication requires four components interworking perfectly for “shared meaning,” my favorite definition of communication.
The individual sending the message must present the message clearly and in detail, and radiate integrity and authenticity.
The person receiving the message must decide to listen, ask questions for clarity, and trust the sender of the message.
The delivery method chosen must suit the circumstances and the needs of both the sender and the receiver.
The content of the message has to resonate and connect, on some level, with the already-held beliefs of the receiver.
With all of this going on in a communication, I think it’s a wonder that organizations ever do it well.
Change management practitioners have provided a broad range of suggestions about how to communicate well during any organizational changes.
Develop a written communication plan to ensure that all of the following occur within your change management process.
Communicate consistently, frequently, and through multiple channels, including speaking, writing, video, training, focus groups, bulletin boards, Intranets, and more about the change.
Communicate all that isMake clear that your bias is toward instant communication, so some of the details may change at a later date. Tell people that your other choice is to hold all communication until you are positive about the decisions. This is disastrous in effective change management.
Provide significant amounts of time for people to ask questions, request clarification, and provide input. If you have been part of a scenario in which a leader presented changes, on overhead transparencies, to a large group, and then fled, you know what bad news this is for change integration.
Clearly communicate the vision, the mission, and the objectives of the change management effort. Help people to understand how these changes will affect them personally. (If you don’t help with this process, people will make up their own stories, usually more negative than the truth.)
Recognize that true communication is a “conversation.” It is two-way and real discussion must result. It cannot be just a presentation.
The change leaders or sponsors need to spend time conversing one-on-one or in small groups with the people who are expected to make the changes.
Communicate the reasons for the changes in such a way that people understand the context, the purpose, and the need. Practitioners have called this: “building a memorable, conceptual framework,” and “creating a theoretical framework to underpin the change.”
Provide answers to questions only if you know the answer. Leaders destroy their credibility when they provide incorrect information or appear to stumble or back-peddle, when providing an answer. It is much better to say you don’t know, and that you will try to find out.
Leaders need to listen. Avoid defensiveness, excuse-making, and answers that are given too quickly. Act with thoughtfulness.
Make leaders and change sponsors available, daily when possible, to mingle with others in the workplace.
Hold interactive workshops and forums in which all employees can explore the changes together, while learning more. Use training as a form of interactive communication and as an opportunity for people to safely explore new behaviors and ideas about change and change management. All levels of the organization must participate in the same sessions.
Communication should be proactive. If the rumor mill is already in action, the organization has waited too long to communicate.
Provide opportunities for people to network with each other, both formally and informally, to share ideas about change and change management.
Publicly review the measurements that are in place to chart progress in the change management and change efforts.
Publicize rewards and recognition for positive approaches and accomplishments in the changes and change management. Celebrate each small win publicly.
Deal with people involved in the change process with patience, gentle humor, grace, persistence, pragmatism, respect, understanding, and support.
Take a long and broad view of change, and think about the impact of changes over one, three, and five years.
Continue all of the behaviors and processes discussed in the articles below until change has the “opportunity to become anchored in the culture.” I am reminded of Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s emphasis on “constancy of purpose.”
Set up changes so that people in you organization experience some early wins.
Recognize that effective change is usually a realignment of the “world view,” rather than a program or flavor of the month.
People involved in change will need to recognize that change is risky; change can be scary; change can often entail the real desire and need to slip back into the comfort zone.
Effective change requires constant vigilance to resist slipping back into the old, comfortable ways of doing business.
Finally, as much as employees need to celebrate new beginnings, you will need to provide opportunities for employees to mourn the past, to let go of familiar ways of doing work. Even as change is, hopefully, a gain for your organization, it is also always a loss.
People lose coworkers, comfortable work processes, known ways of doing things, communication networks, security and stability, or confidence in their own capability. Recognize their loss, and you will assist people to move more quickly with you into the brave new world.
As the speed of change continues to increase, change management is a fundamental competency needed by managers, supervisors, Human Resources staff, and organization leaders. To tap your wisdom, my recent survey about change management afforded me the opportunity to consolidate hundreds of years of experience in change management.
I have collected and categorized your lessons learned and shared in my recent change management survey. Your words demonstrate the nuances of change strategy, planning, implementation, and courage much more graphically than any I can offer on my own. Here, in your words, is your best advice about change management.
Human behavior is very complex, but I honestly believe that organization change is often overcomplicated by bad execution and lack of clarity and a plan. Change principles are simple (does not mean easy). In my opinion, 70-90% of the successful change efforts I've been involved in have focused very heavily on the basics... Those that failed usually did so not for poor intent or a bad company strategy, but because of bad CHANGE strategy and implementation.
More MBA and other business degree programs should concentrate on Human Performance Improvement and Organization Development (and Design) principles. Better identification and selection of leaders would also help staff the top ranks of organizations with those who are better emotionally suited to produce change. Successful change management strategies require not only an awareness of human behavior, but also workplace evolutionary trends.
Many consultants only see half the picture and rely on historical evidence of successes. The workplace trends we are seeing do not have historical context, thereby this tactic will eliminate many potential "solutions" that previously may have worked."
A lot of what I see regarding change, hasn't changed over the years.....it's "repackaged", replicated, improved upon, etc. Basically if you define the objective, train your people (give them the tools), communicate at all levels expectations/WIFM/R&R's), (Note: what's in it for me and rewards and recognition) and reward for success, change (and teams) will be successful.
Change should be clearly related to an important, strategic business objective, otherwise management attention will wane. Developing a clear, catchy sound bite that summarizes the behavior change enables people to remember the new behaviors.
Have meetings at least once a week including all members who will be impacted by or are driving the process together in the same room.
Build skills in communication such that the real conversations can be held on a regular basis.
Communicating clearly and frequently, especially about measurements, results and consequences.
Getting the whole organization together can build momentum, create a memorable event, and build peer pressure for the change.
Change is possible; the need for change is increasing; change capability is necessary for the organizations that will succeed in the future. So say the respondents to my survey about change management success.
To sum up,
Successful change management requires:
full and active executive support,
organizational planning and analysis and widespread perceived need for the change.
These are the big five when successful change is achieved.
Implementing your change in an organizational environment that is already employee-oriented, with a high level of trust, is a huge plus point.