Important Elements of Managing Change

A recent slide show on Managing Change that I just posted to my LinkedIn site comes from a course I teach at Portland State University.  The 8 steps for managing change that are outlined in the slides are derived from John Kotter’s Our Iceberg is Melting.

I recognize that the rapid rate of change inside organizations today demands fast action and therefore, following the 8 steps may seem counter intuitive.

In my work with organizations, I have observed that many unsuccessful change initiatives are the result of not addressing three of the eight steps in Kotter’s model.  Those steps include:

Communicate for Understanding and Buy In.

The internal “champions for change” often overlook a fundamental principle: they forget that those who will ultimately receive the message about the change and be expected to implement it,have not had the benefit of being immersed in the detailed planning of the proposed change. Thus, the inevitable resistance that comes with change is met with some bewilderment.

Gaining buy in from the beginning is essential and the process for getting it can be derived by answering two key questions:

1. Other than in the “internal change champions” who are driving the change, what stakeholders need to be included in the planning?

2. What are the mechanisms for communicating the change, the time lines for using these avenues and the content of the “change” messages being conveyed?

In my experience, the greatest resistance to change is caused by inadequate stakeholder involvement and inconsistent communication about the change.

Empower Others to Act

Those involved in change implementation need to know they are supported:

  • How will they be relieved of normal daily tasks to focus on change implementation?
  • What resources will be required for implementation to be successful?

Manager/leaders need to understand that their roles must shift to that of “advocate” in order to support the work of the “change agents”

Produce Short Term Wins

Resistance to change will dissipate  rapidly if individuals observe/experience successes stemming from the change and the subsequent forward momentum. These successes have to be big enough for people to feel/notice a difference.

I invite you to read Our Iceberg is Melting to fully understand the process for fully managing change. Is it easy? No and is it necessary? Absolutely!

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