How to Charter a Change Leadership Team

How to Charter a Change Leadership Team
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Why Change Efforts Fail
Most large-scale change efforts do not achieve their objectives.  The changes were either aborted before implementation, went awry as they began, or never realized the expected business results.  Organizational change efforts typically fail because people tend to see change through eyes that are accustomed to business as usual, rather than through those of people who know how to be leaders of change. They need a change leadership team.

The Key Task
Getting people to understand, become involved with, and committed to change is the key task of change leadership teams.  Leaders need to see that the success of change depends upon their ability to understand its nature and lead people through it in a way that makes sense.

How to Begin to Charter a Change Leadership Team
One of the first steps required to mobilize an organization to change is to select, train, and develop the team responsible for leading the change – charter a change leadership team.  Change does not take place using normal pathways or normal organizational channels.  By definition, change represents an upheaval to the way things are done.

Setting Up the Team
To set change up for success, we typically create a special cross-functional, multi-level group of empowered leaders to design and guide the change process. This is often an entirely new type of team and role for an organization.  The purpose of the Change Leadership Team is to lead the change in terms of the people, cultural, and organizational needs of the project.

This includes educating stakeholders, anticipating challenges, managing resistance to change, addressing difficult issues, and guiding the overall change process.  The Change Leadership Team also acts as “Super” Change Champions by supporting those tasked with leading the change in each organization.

Common Change Leadership Team Criteria
Ideally, members of the change leadership team must be:

  • Representative
    Represent the perspectives and ideas of the key stakeholder groups affected by the change in terms of functions, levels, information flows, power structures, perspectives, and resistance
  • Influential
    Have the organizational authority and be comfortable driving and approving decisions that impact change
  • Active
    Be able to successfully remove barriers, provide access, and make decisions
  • Models
    Be role models of company values and leadership expectations
  • Willing
    Be willing to learn and attend intensive change leadership training
  • Available
    Be able to devote between 20% and 100% of their time depending upon the scope of the change
  • A Workable Size
    Be a team of no more than 12 people

Components of a Change Leadership Team Charter
The new change leadership team must spend time upfront understanding their charter and developing clear goals, roles, and success metrics for their highly consequential assignment by agreeing to:

  • Mission: The team mission that typically revolves around educating the organization, anticipating and managing change resistance, addressing difficult issues, and guiding the overall change process based upon feedback from the Change Champions and the organization
  • Scope: The scope and decision-making boundaries between the change leadership team, the executive team, and other project teams
  • Roles & Responsibilities: The role of the team leader, team members, and any external change management consultants.  The responsibilities for who will be responsible for areas such as:

    Change Advocate/Sponsor – Creating the conditions for success and maintaining a line of sight between the project objectives and the the people side of change

    Change Process Leader – Designing and implementing a change strategy that successfully aligns the project purpose with people strategies, structures, relationships, and business results

    Change Project Lead – Managing the overall project execution to be on time, on budget, on scope, and at the right quality

    Change Sprint Master – Representing the technical requirements of the project and ensuring that the people, process, structure, information, relationship, and culture components of the change are represented during

    Change Communication Partner – Owning, executing, and measuring the change communication strategy

    Change Stakeholder Engagement Manager – Connecting, representing, and communicating with Key Stakeholders who have high interest and high influence in the project

    Change Coach – Building change leadership capability and measuring the impact through formal and informal feedback loops

    Change Champion Liaison – Engaging, motivating, and holding Change Champions accountable for effective stakeholder engagement to accelerate adoption and minimize resistance

    Change Learning Partner – Developing individual change capability throughout the project

    Change Culture Champion – Ensuring that all change initiatives complement and support the desired culture through appropriate rewards, recognition, and consequences.

  • Connections: How to best represent and stay connected to the rest of the organization
  • Communication: A communication and stakeholder involvement plan
  • Change Champions: How to identify and support Change Champions (also called Change Catalysts) to engage key stakeholders affected by change and bring them successfully along the change journey

The Bottom Line
The task of bringing any organization through change is a complex, often daunting, but vital process that must not only occur, but must be sustained if the organization, its people, and their missions are to prevail.  For any organization to create sustainable change, it must have a change leadership team that can develop an environment ready for change, find ways to mobilize the organization through key design elements of change, and see the change through.

As a leader, are you doing all you can to set up your change team and their charter on a path to succeed?

To learn more about setting your organizational change up for success, download the 5 Science-Backed Lenses for Leaders of Change

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