10 Keys to Success for: Change Management

1. Leadership

The number one key to successful change management is LEADERSHIP! Nothing happens without it. Successful large-scale change initiatives must touch all aspects of the organization and be driven top-down by the senior team.

Organizational members turn to leaders to get guidance on how to interpret situations, how to behave toward one another as well as customers, and to verify the values that will guide their work. More than anyone else, leaders create the conditions that directly determine people’s ability to achieve superior.

There is nothing more exciting than working for a visionary, passionate leader. And there is nothing more frustrating than seeing visionary leaders hamstrung by their inability to create the future. In the words of organizational theorist and author Peter Senge, “What [many wannabe leaders] never grasp is that the natural energy for changing reality comes from holding a picture of what might be that is more important to people than what is.”

2. Performance

Also, contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a white knight. That is, the “right” Chief Executive will not solve all the problems of an organization.

In reality, the leadership requirements of winning organizations that stand the test of time go well beyond the Chief Executive. They extend to the leadership team, as well as to the systems, structures and procedures they put in place.

It is this broad leadership and organizational systems of an enterprise that are important over time, especially during periods of high stress and expectations.

3. Ask the Right Questions

Companies need to be very clear about what they do, how they do it, and who they do it for. Senior Leadership’s primary responsibility is to constantly scan the macro environment, analyze trends and patterns in the marketplace and have the confidence to effectively answer the following questions:

•What is our strategic vision and who are our customers ?
•If our organization were fully aligned to its vision and customers, how would it be structured ?
•What processes would it have ?
•What people would it have and how would they work ?
•What tools and competencies would these people need to do their work ?
•Where are the gaps between the ideal organization and the organization we have today ?
•How do we prioritize the areas that need to be changed ?
•How do we create and sustain those changes ?
•How do we structure ourselves to maximize profitability ?
•How do we develop the leadership we need to succeed long-term ?

4. Focus on the Critical Success Factors

Once the need for change has been established, leaders are responsible for managing the success of personal and organizational change. Successful change hinges on the following Critical Success Factors that leaders must recognize and manage:

1.Creating a sense of urgency
2.Aligning the change initiative with the business strategy
3.Identifying passionate champions for change on the Senior Team
4.Gaining endorsement of a focused vision
5.Developing a variety of visible, broad-based actions designed to impact the business and employees
6.Ensuring continuous communication to all stakeholders
7.Emphasizing personal and organizational adaptability
8.Establishing clear measures/metrics tied to business performance

5. Engage the head.

You need to give people a reason why change is nec-essary and why it is necessary now. Create a sense of urgency by using the voice of the customer. Take your fuzzy vision and clarify it by talking to the people who serve the customer. Then work on your vision until it is crystal clear, and you can communicate it in five minutes. Your five-minute elevator speech should be structured like a story, respecting the past by recognizing accomplishments and strengths, frankly discussing current challenges and what change needs to occur, and painting a picture of the better day ahead.

As corporate change guru Terry Paulson says, "The difference between a vision and a hallucination is the number of people who can see it."

6. Capture the heart.

People are motivated by purpose, affiliation and security. You need to build all of those into your change program. Motivations are personal, so you must enlist people one at a time by understanding what drives them and bringing their resistance to the surface. Ask questions to make it easy for them to tell you what is working well, what is going wrong, ideas they have to make things better, and all the reasons why change should not happen or is not going well.

Keep in mind that silence is resistance carried out by other means. Again, remember to give your staff a "noble purpose" by articulating the vision in terms of what’s good for the customer. Help people affiliate by teaming them with others on an important initiative. Finally, be honest with employees about the likely implications of change. Offer "soft landings" (such as education programs, severance packages and retention bonuses) for those who will lose their jobs or will need to change jobs and skills.

7. Free the hands

To build momentum for your change program, pick some easy projects so that people can taste early wins. Set up clear performance measurements so that progress is transparent to everyone. Define rules to ensure that people are operating consistently with your vision for change, while at the same time giving people plenty of freedom to apply their creativity.

8. Navigating the political minefield

Announcing change almost instantly cause the corporate politicians to emerge. They are working constantly behind the scenes to position themselves in the best possible way. They will appear to be working with you but more often than not they have their very own agenda and will be trying to achieve certain outcomes. They act in their own best interest and you need to identify them quickly to ensure that you don’t get sidetracked by them.

Before you know who they are, you need to consider what the real motivation behind each person’s actions might be. Once you have identified the ones with their own agenda you need to incorporate them in your work and use their energy to drive the change – not personal agenda’s.

9. Create short term wins

People don’t usually believe in a new direction when talking about change. This is because they have the tendency to suspend their disbelief to the whole idea. In order for you to change this and make them believe in the change is to let them see actual behavior, results, and actions so that it will lead them to a conclusion that the program that you are implementing actually works.

If you want real transformation by using business change management, bear in mind that this will take a lot of time and there is a need for a renewal of effort so that there would be no risk when it comes to losing momentum. For you to be able to do this, make sure that you have short-term goals that you will be able to meet and celebrate about once in a while. That is because without these short-term achievements, a lot of people may give up or they could also eventually join those people who have been resisting the change from the very start.

10. Customize your approach

A "one-size-fits-all" approach for change management is not effective. Each change effort is unique; and the people side of that change should be managed with a customized approach. Customizing the change management approach requires a solid “situational awareness” – an understanding of what this change means and who will be impacted by it.

Part of building the situational awareness is tied to really understanding the change at hand. Is it a process change? A system or technology change? Will job roles be impacted? How broadly will the change have impact across the organization? How dramatic will the impacts be? The other side of situational awareness is understanding the groups that are being impacted and the background of the change. How does the organization’s culture impact this change? What is the history of change? How competent is the organization – and different employee groups within the organization – at leading change?

Customizing the change management approach through assessment and scaling efforts up front enables change management to be targeted and focused. Based on the particular situation, the "right" change management team structure can be selected. The change itself dictates the sponsorship that will be required and the appropriate sponsor coalition needed to drive the change forward. Change management plans – like the communication plan, the coaching plan and the resistance management plan – are developed in a way that truly reflect and address the unique change and the challenges that will be faced.