Change is hard.
What do you think of when you hear the word change?
The fast pace of change in today’s world can feel overwhelming, and you might struggle to adapt. Change is inevitable so when you become an expert in change management you will be able to guide your team to adapt and your business will come out stronger than ever.
One of the most effective ways to adapt to change and achieve better results is to adjust the approach we take. This includes how we communicate, how we model our behaviours, and how to handle the process of getting things done. When we do this we set everything in motion to successfully execute new strategies.
This is where change management comes into play, it gives organizations the tools to ensure that changes are implemented smoothly and the desired impact is created.
What is change management?
Change management is the practice that guides us in the direction to prepare, equip, and support individuals in order to successfully adapt change as means to motivate organizational success and outcomes. Even though every situation of change is different and every individual is different, research has shown that by taking the right steps we can influence individuals. And that is exactly what change management is, it gives us a structured approach to support individuals to change from their current position to their future position.
The Three Levels of Change Management
Humans' natural response is to resist change. But in order for organizational change to happen, individuals need to change. When you create a buy in for all of your employees, you will lead a successful change. In order to have individual change management, we must understand how individual’s struggle with change and what they need to change successfully. What do they need to hear? Who do they need to hear it from? What is the optimal timing? What makes lasting change?
Organizational change is also called initiative change. At this level, we need to look at the actions to take to support groups of individuals on various projects. You must make change management the norm on all projects and initiatives taking place. Leaders have to make sure that individuals in all levels of the organization know how to fulfill their roles in the change process.
After change is embraced on an individual and organizational level, change must be ingrained in your core values. You will differentiate from your competition and the ability to adapt in our fast changing world. Enterprise change management means that the change is embedded in your culture, processes, projects, and leadership competencies. Once you master the enterprise level, individuals embrace change more quickly and effectively, and organizations are able to respond quickly to all aspects of change.
So what now?
When it comes to motivating employees through change, communication and planning are essential. Your people need to know that you are ready to lead and you are equipped with the practical skills to direct your organization through the transition.
Even when you plan everything out, setbacks can occur and problems can always come up. There may be some people that question and may doubt the change but it is important that you recognize, understand, and address any resistance to change.
Kotter's Eight Step Change Model
There are many theories in the change management space and most of them stem from the research of change management master John Kotter. Harvard Business School professor and world-renowned change expert, Kotter introduced his eight-step change process in his 1995 book, "Leading Change."
The eight steps from Kotter’s change theory are highlighted below:
1) Create a Sense of Urgency
Creating a sense of urgency creates buy in and a need for change, when everyone gets onboard, change happens. Identify various threats that can pop up and different scenarios that may occur in the future. Then consider different opportunities which can be taken advantage of. And finally, one word, communication! Have honest discussions, give everyone a reason to continue discussions, make them think, chat to your customers, stakeholders, and industry partners.
2) Build a Guiding Coalition
Convince everyone that change is essential. You need strong leadership and support from key individuals in your organization. Even if your staff is talented and committed, if you are not able to rise to the challenge of leadership during change, your team will feel your absence. The coalition you build should be made up of change leaders in your organization along with key stakeholders and individuals with a wide range of skills. The coalition can assist you in spreading your message throughout the organization.
3) Create a Vision for Change
A clear vision will help everyone understand why you are asking them to do something. Determine the core values and lay out a strategy to execute the vision. When you create an inspirational vision it has an even further positive effect on the organization.
4) Communicate the Vision
In order to get support for your vision you need to communicate it through the organization. The message behind your vision can get lost in the other day-to-day communication so you need to communicate it frequently and powerfully.
5) Remove Obstacles
The first four steps are vital in building the strength of your change initiative but you also must look at what could get in the way of your change initiative. Implement proactive solutions to remove obstacles that could get in the way of the change process.
6) Create Short-Term Wins
Sometimes the change process may feel like it is taking a long time with little reward along the way. By creating short-term wins along the way you get to feel little victories along the way which is also a great tool to create motivation within the team.
7) Build on the Change
Kotter argues that many change failures fail because victory is declared too early on. To prevent your change from failing it is important to sustain the change long after it is accomplished. Set goals to continue building on the momentum you have created.
8) Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
In order to make the change stick it must become a part of the core of the organization. By discussing various success stories, encouraging new employees to adopt the changes, and celebrating individuals who adopt the change you will embed the change into the core of your organization.
Recognizing the need for change and implementing it at the right time is vital for your business’s success. The world is changing quickly so it is key that you become a master at change management. Change may be challenging but I am confident that you can take it on with motion, emotion, and impact.