Effective and Lasting Change
Whether you are starting a new company or merging two organizations, SUCCESSFUL change requires that urgency is created and maintained. People resist change. Everyone is familiar with that tired mantra, “We’ve always done it this way.” Change creates pain, anxiety, fear, stress, and confusion.
With so many downsides to change, why bother? That’s the point! WHY BOTHER? If your team, at every level, doesn’t completely understand the urgency for change, they will resist and possibly sabotage your efforts. That is where true leadership comes in. Most of us recognize that the job of leaders is to inspire. That is what establishing urgency accomplishes; it paints the picture. What will happen if we don’t change? Why is all of this pain, anxiety, fear, stress, and confusion necessary. What will be the advantage if we do change? Is it worth it?
John Kotter said it best in The Heart of Change, “People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings.”
In the organizational change process we need to be sure to paint the complete picture. That is, what will be the impact on the organization if we don’t change, and especially, what will be the impact on the employees if we don’t’ change. Change is personal. Organizational change is important in that it explains the need for the “whole” to change, but it is imperative that the individual is clear of the need for them to change.
My experience shows this is where most organizations fail in their change efforts. We seem to have this tendency to define and explain things in the context of the “whole”, but it is the context of the personal impact that determines whether the effort is a success or not.
When Transforming Leadership works with organizations we often use the phrase “cascading communication.” This simply means that we use various forms or channels of communication, and we use them repeatedly. We use various forms to ensure that everyone has received the message and we use them repeatedly because the natural tendency is for us to gradually return to our previous/old/proven way of doing things. We must be constantly reminded of the need for change and the negative impact of not changing.
The need for personal impact requires that the “change team” include leaders from every level of the organization. Often the need for change is determined by the top or senior leaders of the organization, and then the steps of the change process are handed down through the organization. This doesn’t allow for the cascading communication of urgency. Make sure every level of leadership is included in the urgency process, and make sure every level of leadership understands the “urgency for urgency.” It is the job of every level of leadership to ensure understanding and buy-in within their level. Cascading not only the steps of change, but also the urgency, will ensure a successful and cost-effective transition.