Do Change Management Steps Really Work?
Organizational change management training and consulting experts know changing habits and behaviors is difficult…just ask anyone who has ever been on a diet or who has reneged on their New Year’s resolutions.
The Change Called “Weight Loss”
Let’s start with weight loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control, sixty-two percent of adult Americans are overweight or obese. And obesity has been directly linked to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and sleep apnea. So there is an urgent problem that needs some proven change management steps.
Accordingly, Colorado State University reports 50 million Americans go on a diet each year but unfortunately only 5 percent manage to keep the weight off. The study found while many can drop weight quickly, the majority do not reduce calorie intake or increase physical activity over the long run. This is not dissimilar to organizational change efforts losing momentum as the fad of the month when the going gets tough.
New Year’s Resolution Statistics Look Pretty Bad
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the U.S. News reports approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. The most common resolutions include weight loss, exercise, stopping smoking, better money management and debt reduction. Not easy changes to make.
And again these statistics are not vastly different from the failed organizational change initiatives that plague corporations year-after-year.
What Are Resolutions Really About?
Making resolutions (or any change) work involves the hard work of changing behaviors. To change a behavior, you must change your thinking when you’re faced with a choice or decision related to your desired change. And according to brain scientists, making a new decision requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking – a basic rewiring of your brain.
Three Proven Steps to Effective Change
But people also change when their circumstances change. If you as a change management leader can follow proven change management steps to modify the environment so that the new behavior is positively reinforced, organizational change is more likely to be successful.
1. Align Rewards and Consequences
The old carrot and stick theory is still around because it works (as long as it is in place). In the workplace, you can effect change more quickly if you offer incentives for the positive behavior you want and consequences for the negative behavior you want people to avoid.
2. Find Role Models
Identify those in the workplace who are generally admired or hold great level of influence. If you can persuade them of the need for the behavior change and secure their authentic cooperation and commitment, you have a role model for others to emulate. Key influencers can encourage organizational change far more effectively than an executive decree.
3. Offer Meaningful Support
Once you have identified the behavior change you seek, be sure to provide targeted and relevant change management training skill development, project opportunities and the coaching that will support the new behaviors.
The Bottom Line
Once you have identified the behavior change you seek, follow these three change management steps (1) align rewards and consequences, (2) find and promote role models and (3) offer meaningful support .
To learn more about organizational change and proven change management steps, download A New Way to Think About Change: The Agile Organization
4 Steps to Create Strategic Alignment
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