Although change management has existed as a business concept for over half a century, successful change management is an entirely different story. Let’s face it, with all the struggles that organizations have faced in recent times, they have had plenty of practice at change management, may have read one of the 83,000 books related to change management on Amazon, or have attended a change management workshop or seminar.
Certain kinds of change are always easy to make; increasing and decreasing budgets, maintaining strategic alliances, arranging a merger—The fact is that these bold strokes are not what create sustainable change in the organization; it is the long marches that pay off.
Sadly, planning and strategy tend to be talked about much more than execution. As you likely already know, Employee Development Systems, Inc. (EDSI) is known as “The Accountability Company,” which means that we are particularly interested in execution of professional, personal, and organizational habits that improve effectiveness. After many years working with thousands of organizations, we have learned some core tactics for success in change management:
If your in-house managers are not accountable for implementing change, then any efforts made are unlikely to be successful. The advice you receive from outside consultants must be implemented by in-house staff, so be sure that the two groups are working in tandem. Take the time to ensure that your staff is in tune with any outside change agents and is prepared to follow through on initiatives that have been set. Does everyone have the same set of tools and vocabulary for the project?
You must put your money where your mouth is. Challenge yourself, your team, and your entire organization to integrate change management plans into all current projects and initiatives. Not only will swift action shorten the sometimes painful transition time, interjecting the new paradigm into current projects will demonstrate the importance of your plans.
Long-term, effective organizational change requires people to adjust their behavior. You can allocate resources for new product development or reorganize as a unit. Regardless, you cannot order people to use their imagination to solve the budget crunch or to work collaboratively with other members on the team, in the department, or within cross-departmental problem-solving teams.
Here are 7 Techniques for bringing about change in any organization:
1. Tuning in to the environment, through creating a network of listening posts, such as partnerships and alliances that allow you to gather and share information.
2. Challenging the prevailing organizational wisdom, through what is called “kaleidoscope’ thinking; a way of constructing patterns from fragments of data available and manipulating them to form different patterns. Can you look at all of the available information and consider it in a new way?
3. Communicating a compelling aspiration. Changing anything requires a strong and genuine conviction, since there are so many forces to overcome.
4. Building Coalitions through the involvement of people who have the resources, knowledge and political clout to make things happen.
5. Transferring ownership to a working team. Once your coalition is in place, you can enlist others in the implementation. As a leader, you must remain involved, and don’t expect your managers to take over all of the proceedings.
6. Learning to persevere. Everything can look like a failure in the middle. One of the major mistakes that leaders can make is to launch plans and then leave them. Stay with your crew.
7. Making everyone a hero. Recognition brings the change cycle to its logical conclusion, and also motivates people to attempt change again.