Leadership Training: Tactics Required To Implement Change Management Process
These are seven reinforcing action steps or tactics required for successful change.
Step 1: Validate the Journey. Change is movement away from the Present. Change is movement through the Neutral Zone, a place that’s neither completely old nor completely new. And change is movement toward a Future that promises not just something different but, hopefully, something better.The Neutral Zone is the transition from the Present to the Future. In the Neutral Zone, people are anything but indifferent. They may feel unsafe, confused, uncertain or all of the above. This is the price of change. Because the Future is not absolutely firm and fixed, simply traveling through the Neutral Zone will help alter and redefine the Future.
Your challenge is to Validate the Journey. Every change begins with an ending. People look at the Present and try to compare it to the Future by asking countless questions all related to “What’s in it for me?”.When you ask people to go from where they are to someplace else, your task is to create a vision they can understand and will be willing to embrace. Defining the Future with absolute, irrevocable certainty is rarely possible. But you should try to paint a picture of it with as much clarity as is practical
Step 2: Scan for Speed Bumps.Resistance is a force that slows movement. It can bring change to a screeching halt. It comes in a wide variety of forms. But resistance will occur. Count on it.Change never occurs in a vacuum, neither does resistance. Both occur in the context of real people struggling with real (or imagined) issues that have real (or imagined) consequences. The better you understand that context, the better able you are to behave and lead in a Change-Friendly way.
As you scan for speed bumps, you will sometimes notice the early warning signs of an impending storm that threatens your change effort. But you have an advantage over a meteorologist: you can actually redirect or even stop the storm. Rather than ducking for cover from resistance, you can meet it head on.Let’s consider some of the common warning signs of resistance:
- Confusion. No matter how carefully you’ve worked to validate the journey, some people simply won’t get it. It’s not that they’re deliberately pushing back. They just don’t yet understand the implications of the change you’re proposing.
- Silence. Silence can be tough to handle because it’s sort of like lassoing a cloud. Never assume that silence means acceptance.
- Diversion. Many resisters are from the Yeah but Tribe — “Yeah, but this won’t work because ...” Diversionary tactics include scapegoating, rehashing the past, and telling victim, villain and helpless stories. Some diversions are no doubt deliberate, but many are unconscious.
- Resistance is covert or overt — concealed or transparent. A critical part of a Change-Friendly environment is getting inevitable resistance out in the open so you can address it. Only when you understand people’s concerns can you work to find common ground. Unless and until you make it safe to disagree, you won’t have a chance of engaging people’s heads, hearts and hopes
Step 3: Chart the Course.Every good change agent needs a map that shows not only where you’ve been and where you’re going, but keeps you well grounded in the here and now.The chart the course step is where your planning begins to morph into implementation. To enhance your opportunity for success, it’s critical that you mindfully determine the what, when and where of your beginning.
Step 4: Build a Coalition.Don’t kid yourself. Change does not occur in isolation. You must Build a Coalition.To help clarify the resources available to you, you need to know the CAST of characters:
• Champions are people who favor the change but lack the power to sanction it. As advocates for the change, Champions must willingly work to gain commitment and resources for it.
• Agents are people who plan and execute the implementation of the change, including diagnosing potential problems and addressing the problems strategically.
• Sponsors are the people who authorize, legitimize, and demonstrate ownership for the change. You can(and should) have different kinds of Sponsors. Authorizing Sponsors have sufficient organizational power and/or influence to initiate commitment of resources. Reinforcing Sponsors help promote the change at the “local” level. Sometimes a single person can fill both of these roles, but successful change efforts usually involve multiple Sponsors. In short, Sponsors are responsible for creating an environment that enables change to occur.
• Targets are people whose knowledge, assumptions, attitudes, emotions and behaviors must be altered for the change to be sustainable. Targets play a critical role in both the short- and long-term success of the change. They must be educated to understand the changes they are expected to accommodate, and they must be appropriately engaged in the implementation of the change.
Step 5: Ford the Streams.Smart change agents carefully navigate the currents of organizational change. And when the currents aren’t going their way, they Ford the Streams.In a 2011 study of multiple industries around the globe, Booz & Company concluded that “there may be no more critical source of business success or failure than a company’s culture –– it trumps strategy and leadership.” This isn’t to suggest that strategy doesn’t matter, the researchers said, “but rather that the particular strategy a company employs will succeed only if it is supported by the appropriate cultural attributes.”
Cultural awareness is critical for leaders. Leaders who fail to become explicitly conscious of the cultures in which they operate have no hope of “managing” their cultures. The cultures will manage the leaders.
In this world of subcultures, it makes sense to Ford the Stream rather than try to re-channel the entire river. Work for cultural alignment rather than absolute cultural integration. In most change efforts, it’s much easier to draw on the strengths of the subcultures than to invest what is often fruitless energy in trying to change the subcultures. A good approach is first to agree on values.Culture is your organization’s operating system. Tend to your culture with tender-loving care and it will help you and your people get the outcomes you’re after.
Step 6: Stay on Message.Too many so-called leaders buy into the myth that simply sending a message will produce the result they want. That single mistake is at the root of most challenges with change efforts.Change-Friendly leaders get very clear on what, how and when they want to communicate. Then they Stay on Message.
You must implement a thoughtful reinforcement system. If you can remember the word PICNIC, you’ll have a helpful set of guidelines at your disposal. Reinforcement for new, desired behavior should be Positive, Immediate, and Certain. Reinforcement of old, undesired behavior should be Negative, Immediate and Certain. If people in your organization have a “this, too, shall pass” mentality about change, the PICNIC approach can help bring them around to the reality that this change is not going away.
Step 7: Mind the Gap.Personal behaviors, and the cultures they produce, tend to be somewhat elastic. It’s sometimes easy to snap back into a previous habit or behavior. Even the most attentive performer can have an occasional relapse. Consequently, Mind the Gap work must be both personal and institutional. Individuals must be given systems and processes to help them stay on course. And the organization must provide an atmosphere that constantly reinforces the behaviors that produce the desired outcomes. Culture building is not like installing a new air conditioning system. It requires constant vigilance.