As You Consider Organizational Change
In order to survive and thrive, it is often necessary to change mindsets, behaviors, attitudes, processes, skills, offerings, market approaches, or maybe all of the above. But as you consider organizational change, be forewarned — change management consulting experts report that you have to get the first 90 days of change right.
The Steps to Take
In order to succeed at organizational change, here are the steps that our change management simulation participants learn to follow during those critical three months of preparation:
- Assert that Almost Nothing Matters More
When you declare and implement change as a top priority, you are almost 50% more likely to achieve the desired transformation. Be clear about why the organization needs to change. Go beyond generalizations like increasing revenue to reasons that will resonate with your employees by answering key questions early in the process:
What is the current state that we are changing from?
Why is the status quo dissatisfactory?
How urgent is the need for change?
What is the vision for the desired change?
Think in terms of how the change will specifically enhance the company’s purpose, help your employees and customers, or benefit society as a whole.
- Get Everyone on Board
Leaders must set the example by presenting a united front and advocating for the change. But it is the employees who will implement the change. Those most affected by change need to believe in the goals of the change and understand how they will contribute to progress toward change targets.
To get everyone onboard with the desired changes, actively involve those most affected by change early in the change process so that it becomes their own. While this may feel like it will take too long, this “go slow to go fast” approach will save you the inevitable headaches of failed change projects in the long run.
- Create a Change Management Team
With so many moving parts to a major change initiative, we recommend you create a team that has overall responsibility for keeping the transformation on track. This is the team that can ensure alignment and coordination of the multiple activities and teams involved. They should have a strong change leader who has full backing from the C-suite and have the change catalysts and resources to overcome any roadblocks that stand in the way.
- Continue to Communicate, Develop, and Engage
Continued two-way communication is critical to any transformation effort. There will be stresses and strains as employees struggle to shift from the tried and true mode of behavior to what is now required. Set up a process for regular meetings where employees are welcome to ask questions, air concerns, and suggest improvements.
Their voices need to be heard. And as leaders respond, they need to be honest, straightforward, encouraging, and confident about the path forward. The more those at the top pay attention to and take seriously the feedback from employees, the more they will earn workers’ trust and support.
The Bottom Line
Change challenges even the healthiest of organizations. There are few guarantees in business today. But the best way to insulate against change failure is to do all you can to get the first 90 days of change right. Explicitly ensure that those affected by change have the confidence, competence, and the resources to succeed in the new environment. Then consistently, fairly, and compassionately hold people accountable to the new ways.
To learn more about how to get organizational change right, download 5 Science-Backed Ways to Get Change Leadership Right