Even if it may sometimes seem insignificant, any change can be a challenge for a company. To ensure that it goes smoothly and doesn’t disrupt business, it is important that management know how to lead change. Harvard professor, Dr John Kotter, created an 8-step process to manage organisational change.
- Create a sense of urgency
Resistance is often the first reaction to change. It is important to explain why the change is necessary.
When we aren’t able to see the need for change, resistance to it is a perfectly normal reaction. This makes it all the more important, then, to convince the company’s collective mindset that the change will bring real added value to a situation identified as problematic. If employees don’t understand the problem, they’ll be reluctant to change.
- Build a guiding coalition
You will never succeed in instigating change on your own: you need allies. Identify the people who have an influence within the company; they’ll be convincing if they are well-regarded.
To rally the whole company behind the change, the initiative needs to be championed by various sources. If it only comes from one person, it may seem forced and subjective.
- Form a strategic vision
Your allies can now help you to develop a vision of the change you would like to bring about.
The change will affect the whole company, making it important to multiply the points of view in co-creating change that the whole organisation will stand behind. By basing the change on each of the allies’ perspectives, you avoid creating change that is misaligned with the realities of the business.
- Share the vision
Once defined, the vision has to be communicated – and in just the right way.
Communication can be a real catalyst for change, but it needs to be well thought-through. If the vision isn’t communicated effectively, it won’t get very far – even if it gels well with the staff’s realities. It isn’t just about what the vision comprises, but indeed, how it is presented.
- Incentivise your audience
Guide communication towards a pragmatic purpose and make sure it is incentivising.
Provide concrete examples: this will help staff to project themselves in the future and to see the benefits of your vision and the change. Otherwise, your communication risks being nothing more than a set of messages with no practical implications.
- Highlight the results
When the changes start to bear fruit, it is well worth highlighting them; this can help convince certain employees who aren’t yet totally sold on your vision.
By highlighting the successes– however small – brought about by the change, you are giving it greater legitimacy. This will improve employee commitment among those already won over by the change, while helping to shift the mindsets of the few remaining naysayers.
- Adapt based on results
While your change can show signs of success, it can also show flaws. It’s important to constantly measure yourself against the results in order to adapt your vision or the way you communicate it.
There’s a great deal to learn from the results stemming from the change: make the most of it! If certain aspects of the vision are problematic and ill-suited to the realities of the organisation, then it is advisable to go back in the steps and fine-tune the vision or the way it is communicated.
- Lastingly institute change
Change and the transformations it entails can sometimes happen over the long term. It is worth thinking about establishing change-related practices over the long term – particularly by integrating them into the company’s regular practices.
Integrating change-related practices into an organisation’s regular practices is an excellent way to ensure that change takes root over the medium- and long term. The new vision, then, becomes an integral part of the company’s daily practices, and the change will soon be fully assimilated into the organisation.