How to Design Organizational Change that Works

How to Design Organizational Change that Works
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Design Organizational Change
Without solid support from company executives, it is almost impossible to design organizational change that works. Organizational change is hard enough to achieve when everyone is aligned with and committed to the new ways of working and behaving. If you must combat leaders implicitly or explicitly, your chances of success are slim.

To design organizational change that works you must ensure that leaders are aligned on:

The Majority of Leaders Fear Organizational Change|
Many studies focus on how to get resistant employees behind a change initiative. But we have found that leaders, too, avoid initiating real transformation at work. They may be risk averse, uncertain where to start, uncomfortable with leadership accountability, and concerned about stakeholder reactions.

Recent McKinsey research uncovered that 85% of executives believe fear of uncertainty, career failure, and criticism holds back innovation efforts at their organizations. We believe that you first must win over the executive team in all three areas to design organizational change that works. Once leaders are aligned, the change management planning, communications, role modeling, rewarding, and adjusting can begin to get employees onboard.

Getting Executive Buy-in
Based upon data from our change management simulation, the steps to get executive commitment to your change plan is not unlike what it takes to marshal the commitment of the general workforce. It simply requires a different approach to mitigate natural leadership resistance to change.

  • Be 3×3 Relevant
    For any organizational change to take root, it must make personal and professional sense to (1) each individual leader, (2) their teams, and (3) the business as a whole.  This 3×3 relevance is required to win over the hearts and minds of those responsible for guiding the change through good and bad times.

    Be absolutely clear about the benefits of successful change and what the consequences would be if not undertaken. Paint a picture of what success will look like, how you propose to mitigate risk, and what return on the investment of time and money will be likely.

    Expect to be challenged. After all, you are trying to persuade the folks who ultimately will bear the consequences of success or failure. Do not underestimate the importance of this step before moving to planning or action.
  • Be Crystal Clear
    Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing leadership teams.  Executives don’t want or commit to platitudes or time-wasting generalities. Be specific about what is expected from them in order to support the initiative.

    For example, executive project sponsors are expected to be the executive liaison in terms of:

    (1) Providing context, expertise, and guidance
    (2) Ensuring capacity, funding, and prioritization
    (3) Escalating decisions and resolving issues

    At a minimum, other leaders need to consistently and visibly model and reinforce the new ways and require the same from their teams.  We suggest being clear about the change objectives, plan, and metrics for at least the next 90-days.

The Bottom Line
When you are to be a change leader at your organization, start with relevance and clarity at the top. Senior leaders will need to be convinced that the changes are worth it.  Do not get fooled into moving forward without full executive support and alignment.

To learn more about how to design organizational change that works, download The Science-Backed Way Leaders Should View Change Leadership Communications

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