A 3-Step Success Strategy For Leading Change
By Barbara Brown, PhD
As a leader, you know that change is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. The trick is to implement change in a way that does not destroy your organization, disrupt your service, and demoralize your staff. These three steps of the change process will help you do that.
Step 1: Analyze The Change
Before you begin any change process, think about what you want to continue doing, what you want to stop doing, and what you want to start doing. Consider the following strategies:
1. Givens: These are aspects of the change you cannot control. This change must happen, regardless of what you want, what you say, or what you do. You cannot control what will happen, when it will happen, how it will happen, where it will happen, or whom it will happen to.
2. Negotiables: These are aspects of the change you can influence. This change may or may not be necessary. It could be modified or adjusted in some way. You may be able to control what could happen, when it will happen, how it will happen, where it will happen, or whom it will happen to.
3. Controllables: These are aspects of the change you can fully control. You have complete power in this instance. You can control what will happen, when it will happen, where it will happen, or whom it will happen to.
Step 2: Prepare To Implement The Change
You increase commitment and minimize anger when you make your staff partners rather than bystanders in the change process. You also have to ponder the many “what if’s” of the change process. Use these strategies:
1. Notify your staff. Let everyone know ahead of time what will happen.
2. Involve your staff. Discuss the different aspects of the change. Ask for and use their suggestions.
3. Provide appropriate and timely training. Find out what your staff needs to know “before” the change occurs. Make sure they know what they need to know.
4. Make contingency plans. Consider what might go wrong with staff performance or other critical issues. Think about the ripple effects for each possibility. Then identify ways to minimize the negative impact of those occurrences. Also consider what might go better than expected. If something happens ahead of schedule, how might that impact everything else you are trying to do?
Step 3: implement The Change
If you want a smooth transition, you have to create an environment where your staff will see the change for its positives rather than for its negatives. Prepare to help them transition through the following phases: denial, resistance, and commitment. Of course, the goal is commitment. Use these strategies to reach that goal:
1. Give your staff more feedback than usual during the change process.
2. Allow for resistance. Help your staff let go of the “old way of doing things.”
3. Talk with your staff regularly to monitor the change process.
4. Create new and different communication channels so your staff can give you feedback about the change.
5. Reward and acknowledge the staff members who work hard to make the change work.
6. Establish symbols of the change such as new headings on newsletters, new logos, special slogans, or recognition events.