Distinguishing change from transition.
In walking beside leaders who are experiencing significant pushback in a change initiative, I usually ask them, “How are you managing the distinguishing elements of ‘change’ compared to ‘transition’?” Often, they look at me like I am speaking a different language. Simply put, change is external to us, while transition is what is occurring internally as we emotionally catch up with the change. Change is often quickly implemented, but transition is experienced within individuals and is varied in pace and intensity. You simply can’t lead effective change while ignoring the experiences of people involved in the change.
Why change is perceived as a dirty word.
Contrary to popular thought that people do not like change, it is usually the ‘perceived loss’ in change that we do not like. If I were to give you a million dollars, I’m sure you wouldn’t resist it because of the significant change it would bring. As leaders assist their team members to grapple with their transitioning into the change initiative by focussing on the gains received, it assists in greater acceptance. People need to see the loss in the status quo, versus the gain in the change. It is up to the leader to make this clear and to recruit other team members, especially early adopters, in this process.
Managing different responses to change.
If you have been leading for any length of time you will be aware of different take-up rates to initiatives, spanning from innovators, early adopters through to late adopters and laggards. So, this means making sure as a leader you open the door for your team members to discuss any of their concerns about aspects of the changes, so you can assist them in transitioning. You must take notice, and you need to take initiative in these discussions with those who are struggling. Believe me, it will make your life easier in the long term.
A model for effective change initiatives.
If you are looking for a credible and practical resource that steps through a process for intentional organisational change, then John P. Kotter has written a book called, “Leading Change,” which fleshes out an 8-step plan.
- Establishing a sense of urgency
- Creating the guiding coalition
- Developing a vision and strategy
- Communicating the change vision
- Empowering broad-based action
- Generating short-term wins
- Consolidating change and producing more change
- Anchoring new approaches in the culture
If you are a leader who is contemplating organisational change, please feel free to contact me for a free strategy session, where I can help you think through some critical factors, along with exploring whether working with me would be in your best interest.
In summary, to be a successful change-agent one needs to keep cultivating several competencies. Leaders need to keep alert to the changes occurring around them that threaten morale and productivity with an intention to assist others to navigate the terrain. Leaders must increase their capacity to plan change initiatives, along with necessary contingencies more effectively. Leaders need to appropriately involve others according to their levels of influence, in discussions, decisions and the necessary information required for successful implementation.
Effective leaders cast a clear motivating and engaging vision worthy of investment for others to engage their energies. Quality change-agents acknowledge the positive contribution of past approaches and reveal how these approaches are no longer appropriate in achieving optimum outcomes. And finally, effective leaders keep a focus on transitioning through change by listening, coaching, supporting, modelling, and discussing with individuals and teams their journey through the change/s.