How to Raise the Level of Urgency During Organizational Change

How to Raise the Level of Urgency During Organizational Change
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Do You Know How to Raise the Level of Urgency During Organizational Change?
How high you raise the level of urgency during organizational change has a direct correlation to success — as long as the urgency for change is NOT exaggerated, untrue, driven by fear alone, caused from anxiety, created from anger, or powered by politics.

The urgency during organizational change must be driven by relevant and meaningful market realities, risks, and opportunities at the individual, team, and organizational levels.

Change Falters for Many Reasons
If you read the articles on change management consulting and training, you know that there are many reasons organizational change initiatives fail.  Some change efforts don’t even get off the ground — and this is often because there has not been enough urgency established around the need for change.

How We Define Change Urgency
Organizational change urgency exists when people involved in and affected by the change visibly focus on and prioritize activities related to making the change happen above all else on a daily basis.  When change is truly urgent, people are compelled to constantly be on the lookout for the risks and opportunities that the change creates.

When organizational change urgency does not exist, you have workplace complacency — one of the most underestimated killers of workplace change.

Why Urgency During Organizational Change Matters
Unless you can convince your organization, from the top down, that the status quo is more dangerous (and not as appealing) than the change you recommend, your change initiative is in trouble. You need to communicate with a sense of importance, not exaggerating the facts, but painting a picture of the dire consequences of not changing.  What will be the result of your declining competitive position:

  • Loss of market share?
  • Decreased revenue?
  • Changes in leadership?
  • New or increased competition?
  • Unhappy customers?
  • Disengaged employees?
  • Layoffs?

Until your senior management understands what is at risk and your employees accept that change is necessary for survival, attempts at transformation typically languish. It takes energy, hard work, courage, and great change leadership to effect change.  Don’t be stalled at stage one.

Four Ways to Raise the Level of Urgency During Organizational Change
Just as leaders learn during our change management simulation, it is critical to raise the change urgency quotient so you get everybody onboard at the outset by:

  1. Getting Client-Centric Feedback
    Start with your current, potential, and target customers.  Then speak with partners and front-line employees. Use the information to paint a compelling and pressing picture of the reality in terms of the current situation, complications, and implications of not changing the desired path forward and the anticipated benefits of completing the change.

    One client focused on being client-centric successfully used video-taped interviews of clients to get the unfiltered need to change across.

  2. Sharing the Truth
    Too many leaders are afraid to be transparent, share bad news, or discuss interactions with unhappy customers because they do not want to create a sense of doom or failure.  Smart change leaders know sharing data throughout the organization that supports the claim that change is necessary is a critical step toward creating the urgency necessary to gain commitment.

    Sure, you must be smart about how you share information, but do not be afraid to treat those affected like adults.  Because “showing” is more effective than “telling,” we have found customer feedback videos to be one of the most powerful change tools to create relevance and urgency.

  3. Behaving with Urgency
    While this may seem obvious, you would be surprised how many leadership teams do not act with a sense of urgency commensurate with their proposed need for organizational change.  Is your plan for change equal to the challenges that you and the organization face?
  4. Creating Accountability
    Smart change leaders enforce the requirements of change and hold people accountable for living the change.  This includes having clear and significant consequences for those who resist change and creating meaningful recognition and rewards for those who get on board.

    People change when their environment changes.  Do not underestimate the importance of the cultural expectations and attitudes that surround your change initiative.

The Bottom Line
How high you raise the level of urgency during organizational change has a direct correlation to success.  Make sure you use client-centric feedback, speak the truth, behave with urgency, and create accountability.

To learn more about how to handle urgency during organizational change, download the 5 Research-Backed Lenses of Change that Change Leaders Must Balance

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