A real story from a change leader on How to Lead Organizational Change!
My assessment of the history, culture and value systems of the organization in a recent project helped me recognize that staff have been participants in many change initiatives that were poorly communicated, unprepared for implementation and in some cases initiatives that have not been followed through. These experiences have left employees more or less skeptical of any change initiative.
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The organization’s culture is full of tradition and a commonly heard reason for doing things is that, “we have always done it this way and our supervisors aren’t interested in changing.” My assessment also revealed a value system that places a great degree of emphasis on service to the clients, professionalism and dedication.
With this assessment, I recognized the importance of gaining support from the executive team and proceeded to “do change management” on the executive team through presentations and the development of a sponsorship plan to ensure active and visible participation in the project for this team.
Support from the executive allowed me to move ahead with the development of a change management strategy. The key to this strategy was to recruit change agents from the business area to be impacted by the project. Five change agents for my change management working group were recruited and trained in their role.
The change management working group used its knowledge of the culture and history of the organization to create and implement a communication plan, training plan, coaching plan, resistance management plan and reinforcement plan.
Early communication of the project describing the what and the why of the
project along with a description of the impact that the project outcomes would have on staff was key to the success of the project. This step also created a “wow” moment for staff not used to this type of transparency and structure. Face to face communication was relied on rather than the traditional email approach.
Managers and supervisors were surprised with the coaching plan that focused on providing them with early notice of the project and, importantly, training on the critical role they play as the preferred sender of information for staff. We noted that what we were actually doing was “doing change management on change management” for managers and supervisors.
The training plan created provided another “wow” moment as new procedures were prepared with input from staff well before implementation, training sessions provided options for staff to receive training in their preferred style: e-learning; classroom; webinar-based. This plan included post-implementation follow-up to provide clarification on the new procedures.
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The success of this change initiative was seen in the change management survey results following the project that showed excitement about the staff engagement opportunities.
This approach continues to be used in the change initiatives for this business and staff have quickly embraced the new structured approach to change. There has been much more success in creating excitment and buy-in to participate in new initiatives.
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