Riding the Waves of Change: How to manage change for smoother sailing

Riding the WavesHere is an excerpt from a blog post by Mark Hordes for the Organizational Excellence Journal, published by the Sinclair Group. To read the complete article, check out others, and learn more about the firm, please click here

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Change management initiatives often encounter rough waters because the organization asks employees to do something differently. Furthermore, initiatives muddy the water when change management processes and tools aren’t aligned and integrated into the overall project initiative. Organizations can take steps to help employees take to change as a duck takes to water.

Before delving into how to implement change initiatives that increase your organization’s chance of success, it’s important to define change management to get everyone on the same page. Change management is a process whereby an organization involves the workforce in the change. The organization identifies any resistance to reduce it, increases the ownership and buy-in with leadership support, and makes communications and training a priority.

[Here is the first two of five major considerations]

Preparing for resistance

Resistance to change is almost always a certainty. Organizations that prepare for it drastically lessen its effects. Conducting a readiness-for-change survey and holding focus groups to identify potential resistance are good ways to minimize resistance.

The two most common questions that come out of these activities are “What’s in it for me to go along with the change?” and “What will not change?” Addressing both issues calls for setting up a communications system especially prior to starting any change effort. Some companies set up hotlines to address questions and rumors, some run town hall meetings, and some send email blasts or newsletters or post answers to frequently asked questions online on the company website or bulletin boards.

Gaining leadership support

Another barrier to change management is the failure of sending leaders, managers and sponsors to training prior to starting a change management initiative. The training helps them understand what they need to do to be role models in supporting the change. When they don’t undergo training, the organization will struggle to believe the leaders and management team are committed to the change.
Leaders completing the training conduct kickoff training sessions and teach some aspect of the change management training they received.

Organizations need to assign sponsorship at various levels of the organization. These stewards champion the change process particularly when they run into roadblocks. Sponsors must have the tools and change intervention techniques to identify and address issues, be active listeners, ask open-ended questions, and turn problems into opportunities.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Mark Hordes is senior vice president and principal with the Sinclair Group. He leads the organizational excellence practice for the firm. For more than a decade, the Sinclair Group has partnered with clients globally to develop and implement critical change management and organizational behavior solutions in support of transformational and process initiatives.

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