Change management in your organization? Explore these 20 rules of change success in organizations.
By Catherine Adenle
In charge of change management in your organization? If you are, it’s vital that you explore the guidelines for executing a successful change.
Change is tough to execute and manage in organizations, however, knowing how to enable and embed change is easy when certain guidelines are followed. Agreed, when implementing change, no two organizations are the same, nor is there a ’one-size-fits-all’ approach because each organisation is different in structure, size, vision, culture, business needs and most all, each change management is different.
Despite the range of approaches to change management, there are common guidelines to follow in order to deliver successful change. These common change management guidelines apply to all large and complex organisations.
Following these guidelines, I have come up with 20 rules of successful change management in organizations. The content of these rules is intended as a guide to facilitate best practice by guiding the actions common to a successful change.
These are the 20 Rules of Change Management in Organizations:
Acknowledge and understand the need for change Know everything regarding the need for change and use the information to set the stage. Know why. Understand end goals and rationale of what the organization is trying to accomplish and how the change fits into the corporate vision.
Use the need for change to create a compelling and clear vision with the climate needed for an organizational change Connect the vision to your organizational strategy Engaging stakeholders when developing a vision for change will, in the end, let you articulate one that resonates strongly and impels people to act. Stakeholders must be clear about their contributions to the desired improvement.
Develop a robust change plan and measures. Successfully managing the complexity of change is virtually impossible without a robust plan that is supported by strong project management. Include what will be different, objectives to achieve, outcomes that will be measured, the exact change and workforce development to align with it. Share the framework, roles and responsibilities and what you want to see as the end result. 3
Understand the importance of people during change. Be prepared to align the workforce to support the change Organizations don’t change, people do or they don’t! The people aspect of change is the most difficult to manage. 60-75% of all restructuring failed, not because of strategy, but because of the “human dimension.“
Powerfully communicate the need for change. State aims and steps to take the change vision from idea to action. Outline change benefits. Use a framework based on the desired results and behaviours required for the change. Derive a watertight call to action the communication plan. Communicate throughout, repeat the message often. Don’t wait for leaks and rumour mills to be in full force before telling people all about the change. Assess readiness and make adjustments.
Resistance to change is normal, so expect it. Be prepared to actively manage resistance Understand the transition cycle that highlights the pattern of feelings and behaviours that employees typically go through during change. Be prepared to educate, coach, communicate, negotiate, cooperate, coerce, facilitate, involve others, and offer support in order to deal with resistance and manage the pace of transition.
Understand common reasons why employees object to the change Employees resist change efforts from a perspective that makes perfect sense to them. Knowing the reasons will give you the opportunity to correct or align your change strategy and actively manage resistance to change. Align the organizations’ human resources systems to support employees in transition
Appreciate that people throughout the organization will have different reactions to change Some people are naturally more “change-adept.” Spot and encourage the early adaptors. Develop change-adept employee profiles to better understand how to develop these qualities throughout the organization.
Be candid, continue to engage employees, communicate openly and truthfully. Continuously communicate Under the rationale of “protecting” people, don’t present change with a too positive spin and don’t sugarcoat the truth. The more you hide or lie about things, the wider the trust gap will grow. Successful change doesn’t happen unless there is open and honest dialogue. The rationale is that if people understand the benefits of change, they are more likely to participate in the change and see that it is successfully carried out, which in turn means minimal disruption to the organization.
Listen, engage employees in ‘real two-way’ dialogues, not one-way communication. Gather feedback and derive solutions. This will help to diagnose gaps in change plans and allow employees to speedily make the required transition Listen to people and encourage two-way communication.
Governance: Build a change management team with roles and responsibilities. Create supportive alliances dedicated to the change An internal change management team of experts will support the company’s strategic business initiatives. They will provide behind-the-scenes support in the form of communications, change-readiness analysis, training, and stakeholder engagement strategy the executive sponsors may not have time for.
Build a solid foundation for employees’ inclusion and participation via consultative communication approaches The power of inclusion is immense Trust in the innate intelligence, capability, and creativity of your employees, the buy-in is easier when you include people. Evaluate the results of activities, determine the root cause of any gaps and implement corrective action.
Empower actions from people in support of the change towards achieving quick wins related to the change There’s power in empowering others to work towards a common goal Provide the structure, policies and processes that will allow people to take actions that are beneficial to the change.
Create, showcase and share short term quick wins. Reward achievements Large scale organizational change needs momentum, a sense of achievement, and optimism. Therefore, it is essential that some results are achieved quickly. This will provide good feedback about the validity of your change vision and strategies. It will also give those working hard to achieve the vision recognition and encouragement.
The Transformation process is not an event. It’s a mental, physical and emotional process. Treat it likewise Lack of “emotional literacy” can derail change. Don’t disregard the wrenching emotional process of large-scale change — address the emotional component and don’t underestimate its depth. Allow for individual differences in employees capacity to cope with change
Sustain change. Once the change has happened, focus on how to make it business as usual so that things don’t slip back Reinforcing change is essential to make sure it sticks. Maintaining a results orientation will be critical to change success. Evaluate the results of activities, determine the root cause of any gaps and implement corrective action.
Continue to reinforce change, implement corrective actions, celebrate successes, recognize and reward achievements Reinforcing change is essential to make sure it sticks. Maintaining a results orientation will be critical to change success. This will take away power from cynics.
Measure change successes, review lessons learned, transfer ownership and after-action reviews Measuring and sharing change successes are essential to demonstrate the result of the vision. People will continue to connect with the vision and see how change addresses problems. Maintaining a results orientation will be critical to change success.
With ongoing commitment at the top and across the organization to guide organizational behaviours and lead by example, embed change and continue to build a culture of constant improvement Standardize change once it has happened. Focus on how to make it business as usual. Reinforcing change is essential to make sure it sticks. Maintaining a results orientation will be critical to change success. Evaluate the results of activities, determine the root cause of any gaps and implement corrective action.
Through the change, nurture a new culture by developing other positive behaviours and shared values Through a series of minor follow up successful changes, build a solid business as usual change management capabilities. The idea is to continue with wave after wave of change and not stop until the organizational vision is a reality.
If you are in charge of any change management in your organization and you’ve just explored these 20 rules of successful change management, are there other rules that you would have added? Let’s hear from you, add your comments below.
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