How to lead change in your organization

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8 Step Leading Change Article Series

Do you have to lead change in your organization? If so, you already know that leading an organizational change effort is a difficult process!

How do you lead change, overcome the resistance of employees and other stakeholders, and improve employee and organizational performance at the same time?

Change guru, John Kotter, once said the following about the difficulty of organizational change:

Needed change can still stall because of inwardly focused cultures, paralyzing bureaucracy, parochial politics, a low level of trust, lack of teamwork, arrogant attitudes, a lack of leadership in middle management, and the general human fear of the unknown. . . . In too many situations, the improvements have been disappointing and the carnage has been appalling, with wasted resources and burned-out, scared, or frustrated employees.

John and other gurus like Kurt Lewin were right! Leading organizational change is not easy. Fortunately, it is not an impossible task either. With thoughtful leadership and implementation, business professionals can tame the change beast.

Introducing: The Free How to Lead Change Effectively Resource Series

All of the content in this free article and video resource series blends real-world business practices with proven research on management and leadership. In this series of articles, I will explain the psychology of change, the process for leading change, and strategies for reinforcing positive change. Let’s get started!

The Psychology of Change:

Video: Is Your Organization Ready for Change?

by rw-admin

Most human beings resist change. After all, the unknown is uncomfortable. Changes in leadership are no exception — with them comes a natural apprehension. What direction will the new leader take? How does that impact your future?

However, with the right mindset and a smart approach, changes in leadership can lead to great opportunities. They say that nothing good ever came easy. Keep that in mind as you face a change in leadership at your organization and be proactive about putting in the work to ensure this particular change is good.

Be True to Yourself

Adapting to new leadership doesn’t mean transforming yourself. Any great leader is looking for people who are authentic and transparent, so instead of trying to be who you think the new person wants, be real. Common mistakes that people make include the extremes of hiding out to escape scrutiny or going over the top in trying to befriend the new leader. You don’t want to come across as a “yes” person, but you do want to show your value and your openness to a new direction and focus. The best advice is to just be who you are.

Observe and Listen

You’ve probably done some research about the new leader, but you need to see them in action before you can determine what they’re truly like. When you have a feel for their leadership style and a clear understanding of their vision for the first 100 days, you can more effectively communicate your role in terms of the value it adds for them. Think in terms of output and results that will support their goals versus day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. Once you’ve overviewed your current role and contributions, it’s time to listen again — this time by asking how you can even better support their primary objectives.

Expect and Accept Change

New leadership is often only the beginning of changes to come. Maybe the new leader was brought in specifically to increase sales or strengthen margins. Maybe they have been tasked with streamlining workflows and improving efficiency. Or maybe they want to develop company culture and build morale. These objectives often result in structural changes to specific job descriptions, team structures, overall departmental goals, and even to the way meetings and communication are structured.

Make sure you know how success is defined under the new leadership and be open to the fact that this may change your current day-to-day experience. It requires flexibility on your part to move away from the way things have always been done, but remember that they’re making these changes to benefit the business — it isn’t a reflection of your personal performance.

Reevaluate Your Past Performance

This period of change should encourage you to make some changes of your own. Do a critical, objective review of your role and the way you work. Determine ways you can improve and adapt to align with leadership objectives and to better support your teammates. Once you’ve put thought into this, share your plan with management and confirm that your efforts are focused in

As a chief learning officer, how do you lead organizational change? There are several tried and tested approaches and techniques, but they can be time consuming to find and structure.

I’ve assembled 10 research-based steps to guide you. Many of these steps will be familiar, others may be new, but they have been gleaned and curated with the CLO in mind from my research and doctorate of education studies at the University of Southern California. They are:

  1. Engage in your organization’s strategic planning and goal setting process.
  • Engage your team in reviewing, discussing and analyzing organizational change case studies to distill key learnings that can be adopted and adapted in your organization.
  • Review the Plan-Do-Study-Act model with your team and decide how you can use it in your organization.
  • Listen to and engage your team in the strategic planning process to review, revise and adapt performance plans with new and meaningful metrics to measure progress toward stretch goals.
  1. Focus on organizational change through the knowledge, motivation and organization framework.
  • Remember that change is nonlinear.
  • Check out the Knowledge-Motivation-Organization model by Clark & Estes.
  • Draft a plan for organizational change focusing first on motivation, then on the organizational structure and last on the knowledge and skills needed.
  1. Build a learning organization.
  • Champion creativity and innovation in your organization and empower the workforce to see learning and development challenges from different angles.
  • Establish metrics to measure learning, creativity and innovation in your organization.
  • Monitor and report changes in learner needs, and assess barriers to change.
  1. Initiate qualitative and quantitative research for evidence to drive organizational change.
  • Do not rely only on surveys or conversations to understand the real issues.
  • Ask the right questions, and listen more.
  • Cross-pollinate data results, it’s a tried and tested classic approach to uncover the real issues.
  1. Champion trust and engagement to detect silence and resistance.
  • Know thyself.
  • Stand by your values and walk the talk all the time.
  • Be unwavering when it comes to doing the right thing.
  1. Manage conflict and polarity.
  • Conflict can be a good thing if you address it on time and in an objective manner.
  • Conflict cannot always be problem-solved by closing the gap from A to B.
  • Explore and engage in polarity management to address unsolvable problems.
  1. Over communicate during organizational change.
  • Engage your direct reports by building trust and communicating continuously.
  • Coach and mentor your team to empower them and help them grow as leaders.
  • Overcommunicate with as much transparency as possible when change is coming, is being implemented or has failed.
  1. Steer motivation, rewards and recognition.
  • Ensure your organization differentiates between rewards and recognition.
  • Establish separate rewards policies and procedures.
  • Establish separate recognition policies and procedures.
  1. Revamp archaic policies and procedures.
  • Review and revamp learning and development policies and procedures to ensure they are succinct, practical, implementable and value-adding.
  • Engage your team to establish metrics to ensure learning and development procedures are measurable and can impact the bottom line.
  1. Get out of your own way to facilitate organizational change.
  • Listen to trusted advisers and team members.
  • Communicate both the challenges and the opportunities of a decision.
  • Be willing to pivot.

Every employee plays a part in the process of changing organizational culture, but at the end of the day, leaders are the ones who can make or break it; the choices they make cause a ripple effect on employee recruitment, engagement, and performance that powerfully impacts a company’s performance.

In fact, according to CultureIQ data from the 2015 Top Company Cultures program, the greatest differentiator between the winners and the rest of the list applicants is employees’ confidence in senior leadership. By setting the mission of an organization and empowering employees to achieve that mission, leadership builds the foundation of company culture — and plays an important role in changing it when it needs to be changed.

It’s one thing to say it. It’s another thing to see it in action.

Recently, CultureIQ leaders, got together with Lisa O’Keefe, Senior Advisor of Talent and Engineering Culture at Pritzker Venture Capital to explore how leaders can effectively drive change within their company culture. Drawing from experience, research, and best practices, they discussed what role leaders play in changing organizational culture and why they need to focus on specific changes in order to have an impact.

Here’s what they uncovered:

Changing Organizational Culture Through Leadership

Culture is made up of three layers, represented here by an iceberg: How to lead change in your organization

  • Behaviors, systems, policies and processes surrounding the way things are done
  • Ideals, goals, values, and aspirations set by leadership
  • Underlying assumptions that guide behavior

When it comes to driving organizational change, leaders play a critical role in using their behavior by setting the tone for what’s acceptable within a company. “The moment you found a company, culture comes into the conversation,” says O’Keefe. “In the early stages, you’re focusing on building a core team and taking what you value and applying that to your hiring strategies. As you grow from those early stages, leaders have a responsibility to help define, teach, live, measure, and reward the culture they want to build.”

As a business grows — especially in startups — it’s up to the founders and CEOs to show alignment between the company’s beliefs and the behaviors that the leadership team reinforces when changing corporate culture.

“The more leaders can share what a company values in its culture, the easier it’s going to be for the culture to become a reality and not just these random words uttered without meeting or random quotes on a wall,” says O’Keefe. Leading organizational change also comes down to how you reward employees. For example, if you say you value teamwork but give bonuses for individual performance, what behavior are you really reinforcing? Or if you say you want to treat your team with respect and support innovation, but there’s a really long process for anyone to start something new, what message are you really sending?

Your leadership decides whether or not what your company believes, what it says, and what employees see align. And it’s up to leaders to implement different strategies that match the organizational culture change you’re trying to make.

For example, at CommonBond, the CEO believes in open communication and honest answers. While he could easily have announced an “open doors policy” and sat back to see if anyone took him up on it, he instead decided to act on that value. Every Friday, he sits down and holds an “Ask Me Anything” session where employees can ask questions and get feedback directly from the CEO. If open communication is an important goal within your organization, activities like this show that openness and sharing are more than mottos — they’re behaviors you lead with.

How to lead change in your organization

You’ve heard it said a billion times. Change is hard.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur who has a small team, or a seasoned business owner with a huge workforce — it’s not easy to put large changes into action. It’s one of the most difficult things that companies can do.

You have to be strategic. You have to know how to sell your staff on the changes you want to make. You have to deal with the conflict that inevitably comes from creating change.

And it can be incredibly frustrating. But it has to be done. Companies that fail to change with the times will suffer the consequences.

That may sound a little scary, but it doesn’t have to. Change is hard, but not impossible. In this post you will learn some strategies that you can apply to create the change you need in your organization.

Effective Ways of Managing Change

Make Sure You Have An Effective Strategy

Don’t even think about imposing a change if you haven’t completely planned it out yet. It’s a bad idea.

Of course, you probably already know this.

But the question is: how do you create an effective change management plan? Well, it doesn’t have to be hard. There are three factors you need to consider.

The first is situational awareness – the ability to track and comprehend the critical elements that shape the progress of your project. The next is organizational attributes; the values and beliefs that your team members believe in. Finally, it is about creating a supporting team structure.

It is important for these three factors to be present if you’re going to develop a strong change management plan.

Situational Awareness

Understanding the critical components that shape the progress of your project is important for change management. Some factors to consider here are the size of the change you plan to make, the impact this change can have on the various teams within your organization and most importantly, the objective of implementing this change in the first place.

You also need to take into account the people who will be impacted by the change. Find out how this change will make their day-to-day lives different.

Have a timeframe for deploying the change. While this can be pretty hard to predict, you do not have to worry about this being 100% accurate. It is important to have an idea of how the timeline will progress.

Organizational Attributes

Understanding the organizational attributes of your company will give you some insight into how the change should progress. These attributes are connected to the history and culture of your company. It’s what defines the “background’ that this change is being implemented against.

Simply put, it’s a current assessment of the landscape that you’re coming into while putting the change management plan into action. This will let you know if this is a good time to implement change. It’ll also give you a better idea of what you need to do to foster this change.

It is important to know what your employees and managers feel about the change. Would they concur with the management about the need for its implementation?

This is only possible if your company has a shared vision. Another thing to acknowledge here is knowing how much change your organization is going through currently and who shall be impacted by this.

Understanding the current environment that your company is in will give you a better idea of how you can create the change you need.

Create A Supporting Team Structure

You won’t be able to create change if your team isn’t on board right? If you want a smoother transition, you will need to rely on your people. They are the ones who will move the transformation forward.

You will have to figure out who will be doing the work to implement the transformation. You also have to determine which role each member of the team will play.

There are some other factors you need to take care of:

  • Resistance: Who will be against the change? Why? What will it take for them to come around?
  • Risk assessment: What risks are involved in the change you wish to make? What are the potential negative consequences? What can be done to mitigate those risks?

Having the right people on the job will make your change management plan much easier.

It’s All About The Communication

This is arguably the most important part. It can also be the hardest. Without being able to educate, inspire, and persuade, you will have an incredibly hard time getting them on board with your objective.

Your change management plan needs to include a strategy for communication. The communication needs to start even before you implement your change management plan.

When you’re communicating about the change, you need to emphasize the following:

  • What the change is going to be.
  • How it’s going to impact the team.
  • How it’s going to make the organization stronger.
  • How it’s going to benefit your team.
  • The steps to implementing the plan.

Effective communication is one of the most powerful ways to build a happy team. It shows them that you care about how they feel. It can also help you ease some of their fears. When you’re planning for your change, make sure you include a communication plan.

Listen And Understand

Communication isn’t just about talking to your team. It’s also about listening. You need to show that you’re willing to receive feedback and suggestions from your team members. You can’t lose sight of the “human” aspect of the change.

Understand that some members of your team will feel certain emotions through the process. Some of them will never buy in. As the leader, you need to know that most people fear change. Fear will be the reason for much of the resistance that you will experience.

Transitions are hard. People want to cling to what they have always known. Your team needs to know that you are there to hear their concerns. Invite their feedback. They may even have helpful suggestions that can help with the transition. Having a collaborative attitude is the key to earning their trust.

If you’re wondering how to change an organizational culture, you probably feel that your corporate culture isn’t appropriate for your business strategy.

And this is entirely possible.

Organizational cultures are complex and continually evolving.

They begin with the founders’ mission and vision, then evolve organically over time.

In some cases, that culture can interfere with:

  • An organization’s change plans
  • Organizational strategy
  • The organization’s mission, vision, or values

When culture becomes a blockade to success, it’s time to change.

Below, we’ll look at a 4-step process for doing just that.

How to Change an Organizational Culture in a Few Simple Steps

Make no mistake – cultural change isn’t easy.

[email protected] “changing culture is really hard, and if you know sales people they are resistant to change “

Cultures are a mixture of:

  • Fundamental beliefs, assumptions, values, and perceptions
  • Philosophies and outlooks
  • Rules and codes of social conduct

All of which contribute to employee productivity, performance, and behavior, among other things.

A strong culture is a common feature among successful companies.

But when it’s time to change that culture, you need a structured, effective approach to change.

Prerequisites for a Cultural Change Program

Before getting started with a cultural change project, a few things are required:

  • A reason to change your culture. First and foremost, you need a reason to change your corporate culture – a solid, strategic reason. Because cultural changes can be psychologically taxing, difficult, and costly, it’s important to have a valid, strategic reason for making such a big change.
  • A change initiative. A change project is one such reason. When a business wants to change, it’s entirely possible that the existing corporate culture will interfere with that plan. However, as we’ll see below, you need to verify this before proceeding further.
  • A change management plan and strategy. Your organizational change plan should already have a strategic goal. Managing cultural change can supplement this plan or be integrated with it. But, as mentioned, you will need to make a solid business case for initiating cultural change.

With a specific strategic aim – a business goal – it is possible to determine whether your existing culture can help or hinder that change.

A 4-Step Plan for Cultural Change

Analysis of your own corporate culture is a key element to this approach.

It will help you determine two things.

Firstly, whether cultural change is necessary. Secondly, what type of culture change you need to make.

1. Assess your own culture.

To understand your own company culture:

  • Conduct interviews and hold dialogues with employees
  • Obtain descriptions of your current culture’s manifestations – workplace behaviors, expectations, dress codes, codes of conducts, social norms, and so on
  • Use these cultural manifestations – or artifacts – to elucidate the underlying beliefs of your business culture

For instance, do these sessions suggest that workers are open to change?

Are they open to learning new things?

Do they prize individualism or collectivism?

Is the workplace autocratic (top-down) or democratic (bottom-up)?

The beliefs and behaviors of your culture can indicate how they would respond to your change project.

2. Identify how your culture could help or hinder your change project.

Workplace culture can affect a change project in a few ways.

Namely, that culture can either:

  • Help
  • Hinder
  • Or have no impact

For instance, if your corporate culture is open to change, new ideas, and innovative thinking, then it will probably facilitate change.

If the opposite is true, then you may need to identify beliefs that would hinder your business aims.

Then find a way to shift those beliefs.

3. Focus on changing beliefs, ideas, and values, not processes.

Don’t just introduce new processes and expect culture to change as a result.

Forcing new processes on an unwilling workforce can actually have a negative effect.


  • Explain your ideas about the new culture clearly, persuasively, and deeply – don’t just mandate new processes without explanation
  • Train employees well – a great deal of fear and anxiety comes with learning new things, and this can generate resentment
  • Ensure that your cultural change project is aligned with the organization’s mission, values, and philosophy
  • Incentivize and sell workers on the benefits of change – help them understand how the different corporate culture is better for them personally

In other words, focus on the underlying beliefs and values – not behavior.

Attempting to force behavioral change without explanation or reason may not transform culture. It may entrench old beliefs and ideas even further.

4. Disconfirm old beliefs with persuasive data, then reconfirm with new data.

When initiating your organizational culture change, follow a change model similar to Kurt Lewin’s:

  • Unfreeze old beliefs, values, and ideas. The best way to do this is with data that disconfirms their old beliefs. And, at the same time, you need to point toward a solution by offering new data and persuasive arguments.
  • The transition phase is next. If you successfully disprove old ideas and cultural assumptions, then your workers will undergo cognitive restructuring. In other words, they will begin to adopt new ideas and beliefs.
  • Finally, you will need to freeze the new cognitive structures in place. Reinforce new ideas and cognitive structures through reconfirming data, training, and so on.

In essence, you are engaged in strategic persuasion and communication.

This approach should be familiar to most change managers.

As mentioned, it is derived directly from Kurt Lewin’s change model.

It was then adapted for cultural change by Edgar Schein.

The emphasis here, though, is on affecting beliefs and values, not business processes.

Correctly applied, this approach can help you create a culture that facilitates successful organizational change, strengthens the workforce, and adds value to the business as a whole.

By EverwiseDecember 1, 2016

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Businesses are implementing changes more rapidly than ever before. In a climate where technology is constantly innovating, competition is growing and investor demand is no longer as predictable, this trend is only going to continue. According to a survey from Strategy&, the success rate of major change initiatives is only 54%.

With change comes the need for leadership to not only decrease anxiety and skepticism but to arouse excitement in order to ensure success. Here are 9 ways great managers can lead their teams through change.

Make sure everyone has the same vision.

The Strategy& report says that 44% of employees don’t understand the change they’re being asked to make and more than one-third of them say they don’t agree with it. To implement a successful organizational change, it’s absolutely crucial that everyone be on the same page regardless of what level they are within the company.

Be confident even through the hardships.

It’s easy for leaders to lose heart when something as daunting as organizational change doesn’t go as planned. They may start out confident and excited, but the roadblocks of unenthusiastic employees, slow production schedules and unexpected results can be discouraging. According to this article from Forbes , leadership starts with confidence. It’s important for leaders to stay focused and confident throughout the entire process.

Engage your employees.

Making sure everyone is on the same page is undoubtedly important but once everyone shares the same vision, making sure they’re engaged is parallel. Engaging your employees is important to the basic function of your organization and the importance is magnified through organizational change. When leading through change, it’s important to engage your employees at every level early on in the process. Communication is key – ask your employees for their input, allow them to share their ideas and give them a place to voice their concerns. When employees are engaged, they will be more likely to get on board with the changes.

Identify “change fatigue”.

Organizational change fatigue is defined as “the general sense of apathy or passive resignation towards organizational changes by individuals or teams.” Simply put, it’s the exhaustion that employees feel when making too many changes at once.

According to the Strategy& report , about 65% of executives, managers and employees have experienced some sort of change fatigue. It’s important to identify those experiencing it, listen to them, and address the issues directly.

Lead with your company’s culture in mind.

There’s no doubt you’ve come across articles with some variation of the title, “The Best Places To Work.” Sites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Fortune often take employee surveys and list out the most satisfying companies – and the companies’ cultures are always a dominant feature.

When it comes to changes within your organization, it’s important to make sure that you have your company’s culture in the forefront of your mind. According to this survey from Forbes, more than 50% of respondents said corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates.

Make assessments at every stage.

Once you have a plan in place, it’s easy to have the mentality to keep moving forward without ever looking back. Many organizations that go through major changes fail to measure their success at each stage before moving on, something that they often pay for later. It’s beneficial to take the time to figure out what’s working and what isn’t and then adjust the next steps accordingly.

Identify key players.

Every organization has select employees who are more excitable than others. Identify who these key players are and take the time to walk them through the impending changes and what the company’s expectations are. Forbes suggests key players have control over four critical elements: 1) Vision alignment (those who understand and agree with your company’s vision); 2) Responsibility (they must have a sufficient level of responsibility); 3) Accountability (they must be accountable for reaching their goals), and; 4) Authority.

These employees are then likely to encourage others to accept the changes and help sustain the morale of their teams.

Come up with a realistic plan and have backups.

Just like most everything else, you will need to have a realistic plan in place. If expectations are too high, things can go downhill quickly – from missed deadlines to broken morale. Know your employees’ capabilities and set your plan in place with them in mind.

This article from Chron details the essential steps of management planning, including establishing goals, identifying resources, establishing goal-related tasks, prioritizing, and creating assignments and timelines, among others.

Having a backup plan (or multiples) is also critical to organizational change.

Hold people accountable.

Delegate tasks and hold your employees accountable for them. Make sure they’re equipped with the tools, talent and resources it takes to perform their job and perform it well. If someone isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, it will need to be addressed immediately.

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How to lead change in your organization

You’re leading people, after all.

If you are a company leader hoping to undertake a successful organizational change, you need to make sure your team is onboard and motivated to help make it happen. The following strategies can you help you better understand your employees’ perspectives. Start by creating audience personas that map to key employee segments in your company. Then interview individual employees in each segment to get a sample perspective on typical mindsets, and tailor your communication to match their mood. It’s also important to be as transparent as possible. While you may need to keep some facts private during a transition, the general rule is that the more informed your people are, the more they’ll be able to deal with discomfort. So, learn about your team’s specific fears, and acknowledge them openly. And make sure individuals at all levels feel included. A transformation won’t succeed without broad involvement.

You’re leading people, after all.

I’m working with a CEO who’s in the midst of rethinking her company’s strategy so it can better meet customer demands and thrive financially. These are major changes that will affect every aspect of how the firm operates — from the services it offers to the structure of her organization.

When I sat down with the CEO and her executive team to think through their communication plan, I asked not about the change itself, but about how her employees might feel about what’s ahead. We started with her team because, in my work as a communication consultant, I’ve observed the same thing time and time again: how information is communicated to employees during a change matters more than what information is communicated. A lack of audience empathy when conveying news about an organizational transformation can cause it to fail.

Studies on organizational change show that leaders across the board agree: if you want to lead a successful transformation, communicating empathetically is critical. But the truth is that most leaders don’t actually know how to do it. In fact, at Duarte, the communication consultancy where I’m Chief Strategy Officer, we conducted a survey of over 200 leading company executives and found that 69% of respondents said that they were planning to launch or are currently conducting a change effort. Unfortunately, 50% of these same execs said they hadn’t fully considered their team’s sentiment about the change. Worse, about half said they were just approaching the change “going on gut.”

If you are a company leader hoping to undertake a successful organizational change, you need to make sure your team is onboard and motivated to help make it happen. The following strategies can you help you better understand your employees’ perspectives.

Profile Your Audience at Every Stage
Change consultants typically advise leaders to create personas of various audiences when they kick-off a change initiative. But, considering that people’s wants and needs will evolve throughout the process, you should reevaluate these personas during every phase of the journey.

With the CEO I mentioned earlier, we first created audience personas that mapped to key employee segments in the company by level and function. Then we interviewed individual employees in each segment to get a sample perspective on typical mindsets. During the interviews, we asked questions designed to uncover beliefs, feelings, questions, and concerns about the company’s current strategy. We also asked if there were specific changes they hoped management would (or would not) make.

Using the insights from these interviews, we were able to identify how each employee segment felt about the change effort, and planned communications based on whether they were excited, frightened, or frustrated. Employees who were excited about the change, for example, received communication that encouraged them to motivate their reluctant peers.

As your organizational transformation unfolds and you enter new phases of the change, make sure you repeat the interviewing and empathetic listening process. That way, you can gauge how people are feeling over time, and tailor your communication to match their mood.

Tell People What to Expect
While you may need to keep some facts private during a transition, the general rule is that the more informed your people are, the more they’ll be able to deal with discomfort. So, learn about your team’s specific fears, then acknowledge them openly.

While working with the CEO who was making strategic shifts in her company, we talked about how she could acknowledge some of the fears revealed in a company-wide survey. One employee had expressed concern that the changes would cause talented employees to leave, which would lead to a greater burden on remaining employees.

In the next company-wide meeting, the CEO acknowledged there was worry about brain drain, then shared statistics about how the recent company turnover was designed to reduce the number of low performers and alleviate resulting drag on other employees. She also explained how the HR department was redoubling its efforts to speed up the recruiting process and add more rigor to interviews to ensure new hires were more likely to be high performers.

Having the CEO talk about the departures in an open company forum might seem like a dicey proposition when HR usually prefers to keep exit details private. But feedback from employees afterward showed that the CEO was able to build credibility and trust by addressing the fear of talent loss head-on.

Involve Individuals at All Levels
A transformation won’t succeed without broad involvement. A large European retail bank modeled this well during an organizational overhaul. Following a “dialogue-based planning” model, the CEO created a top-level story for the bank, then asked his executive directors to add a “chapter,” sharing details relevant to their departments. Each director then asked their own team to add to the chapter, incorporating ideas about how a change would impact them and their unique responsibilities. This continued down five levels, all the way to branch managers, and helped every impacted individual understand their part.

An exercise like this can help everyone feel like an active participant with something valuable to add. At that same bank, the director of retail operations wrote about how customers wanted the banking process to be faster. When members of the branch staff read this, they added that document imagers broke down frequently, which was a major headache and caused regular slowdowns. In the end, these frontline employees ended up bringing about a practical, useful change at the organization — one that improved things for all parties.

Business practices evolve rapidly, but there’s one technique business leaders should always rely on to effectively motivate and lead: empathic communication. Develop and show empathy for everyone involved in your corporate transition, and you’ll lead a team that feels valued, included, and driven to help your initiative succeed.

How to lead change in your organization

Most organizations today are in a constant state of flux as they respond to the fast-moving external business environment, local and global economies, and technological advancement. This means that workplace processes, systems, and strategies must continuously change and evolve for an organization to remain competitive.

Change affects your most important asset, your people. Losing employees is costly due to the associated recruitment costs and the time involved getting new employees up to speed. Each time an employee walks out the door, essential intimate knowledge of your business leaves with them.

What is Effective Organizational Change Management?

A change management plan can support a smooth transition and ensure your employees are guided through the change journey. The harsh fact is that approximately 70 percent of change initiatives fail due to negative employee attitudes and unproductive management behavior. Using the services of a professional change management consultant could ensure you are in the winning 30 percent.

In this article, PulseLearning presents six key steps to effective organizational change management.

1. Clearly define the change and align it to business goals.

It might seem obvious but many organizations miss this first vital step. It’s one thing to articulate the change required and entirely another to conduct a critical review against organizational objectives and performance goals to ensure the change will carry your business in the right direction strategically, financially, and ethically. This step can also assist you to determine the value of the change, which will quantify the effort and inputs you should invest.

Key questions:
• What do we need to change?
• Why is this change required?

2. Determine impacts and those affected.

Once you know exactly what you wish to achieve and why, you should then determine the impacts of the change at various organizational levels. Review the effect on each business unit and how it cascades through the organizational structure to the individual. This information will start to form the blueprint for where training and support is needed the most to mitigate the impacts.

Key questions:
• What are the impacts of the change?
• Who will the change affect the most?
• How will the change be received?

3. Develop a communication strategy.

Although all employees should be taken on the change journey, the first two steps will have highlighted those employees you absolutely must communicate the change to. Determine the most effective means of communication for the group or individual that will bring them on board. The communication strategy should include a timeline for how the change will be incrementally communicated, key messages, and the communication channels and mediums you plan to use.

Key questions:
• How will the change be communicated?
• How will feedback be managed?

How to lead change in your organization

4. Provide effective training.

With the change message out in the open, it’s important that your people know they will receive training, structured or informal, to teach the skills and knowledge required to operate efficiently as the change is rolled out. Training could include a suite of micro-learning online modules, or a blended learning approach incorporating face-to-face training sessions or on-the-job coaching and mentoring.

Key questions:
• What behaviors and skills are required to achieve business results?
• What training delivery methods will be most effective?

5. Implement a support structure.

Providing a support structure is essential to assist employees to emotionally and practically adjust to the change and to build proficiency of behaviors and technical skills needed to achieve desired business results. Some change can result in redundancies or restructures, so you could consider providing support such as counseling services to help people navigate the situation. To help employees adjust to changes to how a role is performed, a mentorship or an open-door policy with management to ask questions as they arise could be set up.

Key questions:
• Where is support most required?
• What types of support will be most effective?

6. Measure the change process.

Throughout the change management process, a structure should be put in place to measure the business impact of the changes and ensure that continued reinforcement opportunities exist to build proficiencies. You should also evaluate your change management plan to determine its effectiveness and document any lessons learned.

Key questions:
• Did the change assist in achieving business goals?
• Was the change management process successful?
• What could have been done differently?

Is your business going through a period of organizational change? PulseLearning can assist in managing the change process to meet business goals and minimize the associated impacts. PulseLearning is an award-winning global learning provider experienced in change management consultancy and developing engaging and innovative eLearning and blended training solutions.