4 First Steps of Change – When Change Seems Impossible

First Steps of Change making the IMpossible Possible picture of man jumping

The First Steps of Change Are Critical – Especially When Change Seems Impossible
When organizational change seems impossible to accept and overcome, it is up to leadership to ease the path for employees by clearly outlining the first steps of change in a way that makes sense. Leaders need to understand how it feels as an individual contributor and manager to hear that organizational change is required and that they must be part of it or risk being left behind.

What the Change Research Says
Our organizational alignment research found that factors relating to employees’ positive responsiveness to the changes needed to remain competitive accounted for an almost 5-to-1 difference in performance in terms of revenue, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.

4 First Steps of Change – When Change Seems Impossible
In our twenty years of change management consulting, here is what we have learned about successfully navigating the rough seas.

  1. Plan and Prepare for Change
    When you as leaders have determined that change is required to succeed, you need to develop a clear and compelling message for the troops. No longer can you just dictate what needs to happen. You must try to inspire your employees to understand your vision and fully commit to it.Tell a captivating story that explains the rationale for change and what success will look like at the company, team, and individual levels. Make sure the story you tell is relevant, simple and straightforward so that it can be easily and accurately cascaded throughout the organization.
  2. Provide Forums for Questions and Discussion
    Few will jump aboard the change bandwagon at the outset. Most will react with denial at first and then with resistance. It is as if employees don’t want to face the fact that the change is real.Initially it is easier to hold on to the past. And then, when they realize that change is going to happen, they resist it. Why? Because it is often much easier to hold on to what was comfortable and known than to meet the challenge of the new and different.

    The best way to guide employees from change denial and resistance to change acceptance is to be available to answer their concerns and questions about what the change will mean for them as a group, as a team, and as an individual. They want to know specifically how the change will affect them personally. Tell them what you know, what you do not know yet, and when you will be able to fill in any information gaps.

  3. Provide Support and Resources
    Once employees accept that change must occur, be there to encourage them and to supply whatever change management training and resources that will help them move forward. Understand that change can be hard work for some and that individuals will go through change at different paces. Some will be excited to explore what the change can do for them and others will still be uneasy and lack confidence as they try to learn new skills and a new process.
  4. Encourage Commitment
    Use your best performance management techniques to reward the behaviors that lead to change. It won’t be long before the change has become embedded in employee attitudes and has become familiar and natural.

The Bottom Line
It is a leader’s responsibility to clearly outline the first steps of change to begin the overall change process in a way that makes sense for the unique challenges and opportunities faced by those most affected by change.  Actively involve your key stakeholders in creating those first steps so that they are fully committed to the beginning of the journey.

To see if your change initiative is set up for success, download our Change Management Health Check Now

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