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Change Management Wisdom

Strategy, Planning, and Communication During Change


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As the speed of change continues to increase, change management is a fundamental competency needed by managers, supervisors, Human Resources staff, and organization leaders. To tap your wisdom, my recent survey about change management afforded me the opportunity to consolidate hundreds of years of experience in change management.

I have collected and categorized your lessons learned and shared in my recent change management survey. Your words demonstrate the nuances of change strategy, planning, implementation, and courage much more graphically than any I can offer on my own. Here, in your words, is your best advice about change management.

Change Strategy and Planning

  • "I don't think that change is difficult to structure or navigate. I think we try to bend the rules; we expect people to embrace the change because we like it or we are paying for it. I have never seen a poorly-structured change succeed or a well-structured one fail. I have seen well-structured changes poorly communicated, with the result being pain on the way to the change; I've also seen badly-structured changes beautifully executed, with the result that no one changes."

  • "Human behavior is very complex, but I honestly believe that organization change is often overcomplicated by bad execution and lack of clarity and a plan. Change principles are simple (does not mean easy). In my opinion, 70-90% of the successful change efforts I've been involved in have focused very heavily on the basics... Those that failed usually did so not for poor intent or a bad company strategy, but because of bad CHANGE strategy and implementation.

    More MBA and other business degree programs should concentrate on Human Performance Improvement and Organization Development (and Design) principles. Better identification and selection of leaders would also help staff the top ranks of organizations with those who are better emotionally suited to produce change. Successful change management strategies require not only an awareness of human behavior, but also workplace evolutionary trends.

    Many consultants only see half the picture and rely on historical evidence of successes. The workplace trends we are seeing do not have historical context, thereby this tactic will eliminate many potential "solutions" that previously may have worked."

  • "A lot of what I see regarding change, hasn't changed over the years.....it's "repackaged", replicated, improved upon, etc. Basically if you define the objective, train your people (give them the tools), communicate at all levels expectations/WIFM/R&R's), (Note: what's in it for me and rewards and recognition) and reward for success, change (and teams) will be successful."

  • "A theoretical framework to underpin the change."

  • "Doing risk assessments early on and having a specific mitigation plan for all the major risks."

  • "Clarity of mission, vision and objectives for the change effort. Creating an urgency around the need for change."

  • "Creating and communicating a vision beyond the initial implementation."

  • "Change should be clearly related to an important, strategic business objective, otherwise management attention will wane. Developing a clear, catchy sound bite that summarizes the behavior change enables people to remember the new behaviors."

Communication During Change

  • "You can't communicate enough or talk to enough people. Most employees are quite satisfied with the status quo--20-60-20. Focus on the 60% in the middle--not on the 20% that will never buy-in."

  • "You cannot communicate too much. Have measurable goals so you can track and communicate your progress towards the goals."

  • "Have meetings at least once a week including all members who will be impacted by or are driving the process together in the same room."

  • "Build skills in communication such that the real conversations can be held on a regular basis."

  • "Not trying to answer questions to which we had no answers yet...maintaining credibility."

  • "Communicating clearly and frequently, especially about measurements, results and consequences."

  • "Getting the whole organization together can build momentum, create a memorable event, and build peer pressure for the change."

  • "Every change seems to bring new stuff to do; in today's marketplace, folks have to have the option of dropping or reducing other tasks...we cannot go on adding forever."

Consulting During Change

  • "Negotiating 'entry' with clients. Having uncovered the people with decision making abilities - and getting their co-operation. Never doggedly following a model of improvement. Focusing heavily on the human side and relationship forming. Working with peoples' enthusiasm as much as possible. Providing change resource - gophers, catalysts, analysts. Concentrating on evaluation so people can see change happening. Focusing on small cycles of change so that it's not a one-big-bang approach."

More? See Consequences and Employee Involvement During Change.

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