Change Management — How Leaders Are Driving Change
How leaders are driving change? What’s the secret formula of change management? How to ensure that your organization embrace change at all levels? How to drive change the efficient way?
Since the 2000s, organizational change management have become permanent features of the business landscape.
WarningNew markets and labor pools have opened up, innovative technologies have put once-powerful business models on the chopping block, and capital flows and investor demand have become less predictable.
Change is instrumental to growth.
In today’s fast-based business environment, no organization can afford to sit still and rest on its laurels. It’s said that the only constant is change, and that adage is truer today than it ever has been in the past.
Changes to organizations and business strategies create disruption.
WarningThis disruption challenges employee engagement, making it difficult for changes to take root and thrive. Change management is a practice that mitigates negative reaction to change and increases organizational support for change initiatives.
Leaders and managers play a unique role in organizational change.
They act as champions for change, as supporters of employees, and in reinforcing change after it has taken root. A key characteristic of successful change efforts is the involvement of managers who are able to act as levers of change at all levels of the organization.
Every organization needs change, and it is the responsibility of its leaders to initiate and facilitate the change.
Many organizations have suffered stagnation because their top leadership is unwilling to initiate the necessary changes. It takes a lot of commitment and dedication of efforts for an organization to undergo and sustain its cycle of changes.
By employing proven change management techniques throughout a change initiative, leaders can proactively address the people side of change and avoid the pitfalls that cause so many initiatives to fail. The following list of five guiding principles for change can help you navigate the treacherous shoals of transformation in a systematic way.
Shift Your Mindset
The reasons for not adopting the right mindset vary, and most are understandable. Some leaders allocate time and resources from the perspective of revenue—versus change initiatives. Others have difficulty gaining support in a consensus-driven culture.
Many leaders learn through trial and error how to lead effectively during change.
WarningUnfortunately, their learning curve can be at the expense of the organization. To drive change, you will want to adopt a change management mentality and the necessary skills to communicate and execute it properly.
Anytime leaders fall short on fulfilling expectations, their teams become disillusioned, confused and unmotivated and the business suffers.
Leaders must manage the change or it will manage them. When leaders fulfill the change management role, changes are made efficiently and sustainably, and the expectations of their staff, partners, stakeholders and clients are met.
Leaders have a responsibility to get the vision out of their heads and communicate it in ways that are understood and embraced by all. Announcing the change won’t create a sense of urgency.
It’s up to leaders to ignite the urgency for change by engaging people from across the organization to build a coalition that will embrace the urgency and drive the change. As momentum builds, leaders must champion the change through their behaviors, actions and consistent communication.
Change management can be connected with Victor Vroom’s Contingency Model, which describes leader behavior. The main focus of this model is that style and leader behavior vary depending on the situation and that the leader is always able to learn and adapt leader styles to meet the needs or requirements of every situation.
Successful leaders made sure their own beliefs and behaviors support change.
Change is difficult, but leaders who negotiate it successfully are resilient and persistent, and willing to step outside their comfort zone. They also devote more of their own time to the change effort and focused on the big picture.
During times of change, leaders must be accountable for what is working and what isn’t working. Being accountable fosters a desire and commitment to fix problems to yield the best results.
To be truly accountable means you are willing to let others see behind the curtain to candidly assess how things are going. As you do this, your team will embrace a similar, no-blame openness to performance.
Be Crystal Clear
Effective change leadership requires a clear vision that is shared with employees in a way that is both understandable and inspiring. The shared vision should outline what will change and what will remain the same for the organization, the team, and individuals.
Beyond hearing or reading about the vision, employees need to understand it.
Create a clear picture of the organizational goals, how the change initiative will help to achieve those goals, and how it will affect employees on an individual level. Talk with your employees individually, formally and informally, about the change and, more specifically, about how it is going for them personally.
Change cannot happen without communication that reaches everyone who is impacted by the change. Communication is a key part of a successful change management practice.
Leaders must share information about the importance of the overall initiative as well as details about each step of the process and how those steps are progressing. Likewise, change cannot happen when employees are not engaged in the process because disengaged employees are likely to be the ones who resist the change and derail the initiative.
Some leaders expect that once a strategic change is confirmed, their work is done. They expect others in the organization will implement the work, and they move onto the next burning need. In reality, leaders must be engaged, vocal and visible from beginning to completion of the change management process.
When there is lack of communication between people get frustrated, afraid, or even sad.
The relationship that you have with your employee is very vital to the function of the business. Lack of communication will results in lack of understanding and unwillingness on the part of the employee to take any risks.
People fear change because they are afraid of the unknown.
WarningIn order to maintain a good relationship you need to keep the lines of communication open and direct. Let people know why it is necessary for changes and how they fit into the new program.
Consensus is critical, and leadership must articulate what the change means for the organization as well as how it lines up with goals and objectives.
Often, this will entail breaking down silos and promoting cross-functional cooperation. Clarity and alignment mean looking at the change regarding strategy, not just new technologies and processes.
Successful change leaders don’t expect others to commit to changes that they are not fully on board with themselves. They experience their own discomfort while moving through change but are persistent in sustaining the change process until the desired results are achieved.
Successful change leaders are involved in the change strategy, including identifying what will change and what will not.
They stay involved throughout the execution of the change, monitoring progress, ensuring the right people are put into the right positions and that the wrong people for those positions are removed. They ensure that small wins are celebrated, and momentum is maintained.
Successful leaders develop a strategy and a clear action plan, including priorities, timelines, tasks, structures, behaviors, and resources.
They identify what must change, but also what should stay the same. Leaders who aren’t successful fail to listen enough to questions and concerns, and fail to define success from the beginning.
Don’t abdicate change management to others, such as HR, or leave it to chance because you think people will “get it” the first time. You have to take full responsibility, understand the mindset of your team, enlist their support and hold them accountable.
Visionary leadership grounded on an understanding of the history of the business, the culture and the direction in which the business is intended to go serves the change leader well.
This leads to an understanding of why things are as they are how well to approach sensitive issues while preserving the basics that drives the business. As such it is easier for the change leader to lead to more success in a less conflicting way.
Leaders must also be active and visible sponsors of the change initiative. If employees don’t see this sponsorship, they are less likely to commit to the change.
WarningWhen leadership is not presenting a united front, there is an increased likelihood that the initiative will fail. Leaders who are not on board will consciously or subconsciously give credibility, or even encouragement, to those who are resisting the change.
Leaders with a strong change leadership capability act as initiative translators in the change management process. They are equipped with the ability to share how the overall goals of the change initiative will directly benefit their team members thereby validating their journey.
When you satisfy the desire for employees to want to know what’s in the change for them, resistance is lowered, and engagement increases.
This translation also helps their teams become more resilient in the face of change and adapt more easily. It’s a reality that people are more likely to do something different if they realize by changing they will benefit in some way.
Employees are more likely to adopt change if they feel they have some control over it or at least have some influence in what is changing.
It’s possible to find areas where leadership can involve employees so that they do get a sense of influence and control. When this is done effectively, those employees not only accept the change more readily, they also become strong advocates for the change.
If leaders want to effect change, they must listen to and encourage participation from the people who will be directly affected.
WarningResistance can take a serious toll on productivity and lead to other negative outcomes, such as people leaving the organization or requesting transfers.
No single leader can be an effective champion for change. Successful change management requires a consistent message and action from leadership at all levels of the organization, from junior managers to the C-suite.
One roadblock to change is stakeholder resistance. Getting stakeholder buy-in is crucial — especially when building a coalition and enlisting an army to support the change.
Leaders can’t just tell stakeholders about the change, they need to own it, advocate for it and model adoption of the change. Leaders need to avoid the “do as I say, not as I do” mindset because this mindset isn’t motivating, and it causes doubt among employees about the importance of the change initiative.
Successful change projects are characterized by leaders removing barriers to employee success.
These include personal barriers such as wounded egos and a sense of loss, as well as professional barriers such as the time and resources necessary to carry out a change plan. Successful change leaders pay attention to those who can influence others and bring them on board with the change.
Build Trust & Support
New MRI technology is able to show what happens to our brains when we are faced with major organizational change, giving us a better understanding of the feelings that change can evoke in us, including fear, anxiety, anger, and fatigue.
To gain the support and commitment of your employees, try using change-management strategies to mitigate emotions like fear and resistance.
For example, you might create varied learning opportunities to help your employees handle workplace changes ; experiential training sessions can encourage individuals to test out new skills and behaviors associated with change in a risk-free environment that allows them to practice and better understand the outcomes.
When your employees develop the communication, time management, and stress management skills that can help them handle change, they’ll be better equipped and will feel more confident
WarningDuring times of change it may be necessary to provide change management training for both leaders and employees, as well as implement a reinforcement strategy that promotes real-time coaching and ongoing learning.
Be sympathetic to your employees’ emotions and address their concerns with honesty and optimism. Sometimes, working through emotions together—either one-on-one or as a team—helps individuals address their frustration and fear of change in a more constructive way.
You must consider the emotional impact that change has on your employees, how they will respond to new practices or team leaders.
WarningIt’s not simply a matter of creating an online training strategy and asking them to blindly follow along. Recognize their feelings during the process and understand that change takes time.
There is always risk in business. Making changes are one of those risks. Changing management helps break that risk by providing awareness.
An individual should understand the necessity for the attempt towards that particular change in the business sector. That understanding can be gained by imparting knowledge of the requirement for change and giving honest facts while maintaining the trust and not being over realistic can edge out doubts and fear.
Change management initiatives fail far too often. But organizations don’t have to accept a fifty-fifty chance of success as the inevitable outcome. The key to overcoming the inevitable barriers of change is engaging people through a strong change process and change management communication plan.
The role of leadership in change management requires care, communication and commitment. As the leader, you are the bridge between your organization and the envisioned change.
If you understand your role and the expectations around it, clarify your vision, communicate effectively, and hold yourself and others accountable throughout the change process, you can successfully navigate even the most disruptive change.
Effective change management requires the active participation of leadership and the implementation of the strategies above.
While the actions leaders take to support change initiatives may vary depending on their role, function, or leadership style, the underlying commonality is their commitment to the change initiative and ensuring its success.
Every organization must endure change from time to time, and this can be frightening.
In order to drive change, leaders need to build their own reserves and resiliency, in support of their mental and physical health. In navigating change, resiliency is required because it helps people handle change inherent pressure, uncertainty, and setbacks.
These five guiding principles offer a powerful template for leaders committed to effecting sustained transformational change. The work required can be arduous and exacting. But the need for major change initiatives is only going to become more urgent. It behooves us all to get it right.
As you look at change leaders, how well do you think they exhibit these five characteristics? How can you coach them to become more skilled in their change leadership? Be prepared to put forward these five mindsets and behaviors as expectations of them in order for the change to be successful. Let me know in the comment section below!