How to Succeed at Transformational Change

How to Succeed at Transformational Change
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Defining Transformational Change
Even small changes at work can be difficult.  To succeed at transformational change in any organization is incredibly challenging because transformational change completely changes how people think, behave, interrelate, and work.  Transformational change often alters processes, practices, structures, people, and technologies.

During times of transformational change, virtually nothing is quite the same as before, and there’s no going back.  An additional difficulty is that transformational change in an organization can rarely be accomplished incrementally but often needs to be adopted in one fell swoop.

To Be Successful at Transformational Change
Our change management consulting experience of over twenty years advising our clients on how to succeed at transformational change has taught us that there are four fundamental requirements:

  1. Create a Clear and Persuasive Rationale for Change
    Be very clear about what the change will entail, why transformational change is needed, and how successful organizational change will be accomplished. The most successful change leaders can make a clear and compelling business case for change that includes:

    — A current state analysis
    — A compelling vision for change
    — The urgency for change
    — A plan to communicate change

    Once the message of change has been cascaded and understood and agreed to by key executive stakeholders, each work group must define the change and how they specifically fit in from their perspective.  After all, effective organizational change happens on the frontline, not in the executive suite.

  2. Include the Human Side of Change
    It’s one thing to introduce and install new processes and new technology. But unless all your key key stakeholders are on board, you risk incomplete realization of your change objectives.  In addition, organizational change must be sustained over time.

    We know from our change management simulation data that a month or two of “trying” the new way of doing things is not enough.  You need to make sure that people are unlikely to revert to the old, and often easier, ways of doing things.

  3. Reinforce the Desired Changes
    Behaviors, even those that employees have agreed are needed and are committed to, need consistent and meaningful reinforcement to become habits. Reinforce behaviors with meaningful rewards, ongoing feedback, and appropriate consequences for slipping backward.
  4. Nominate Influential Change Leaders
    Another essential for successful transformational change is to have a select group of well-respected, influential, and visible employees who become advocates and role models for the desired changes. Employees need to frequently and consistently observe change leaders and high performers adopting the desired changes.

The Bottom Line
Successful transformational change requires a clear, compelling rationale that leaders and the workforce alike accept and are committed to.  Transformational change requires a greater degree of commitment and perseverance, but it is possible.  Are you ready to do what it takes to see your change through?

To learn more about how to ensure successful transformational change, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change Leadership

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