Constant change is a way of life in organizations today. How do managers and leaders cope with the barrage of changes that confront them daily as they attempt to keep their organizations adaptive and viable?
Leaders often feel trapped in a lose-lose situation when they try to launch a change effort. On one hand, they risk unleashing all kinds of pent-up negative feels in people. On the other hand, if they don’t drive change, their organizations will be displaced by those that are committed to innovation.
To lead a successful change, leaders must listen in on the conversations in the organization and surface and resolve people’s concerns about the change.
Five Change Leadership Strategies
The following five change leadership strategies and their outcomes describe an effective process for leading change.
Strategy 1: Expand Involvement and Influence
(Outcome: Buy-In) By involving people in decision making about the change, leaders significantly increase the probability that the change will be successfully implemented. People are less likely to resist the change when they have been involved in creating the change.
Strategy 2: Explain Why the Change Is Needed
(Outcome: Compelling Case for Change) This strategy addresses information concerns. When leaders present and explain a rational reason for the change, the outcome is a compelling case that helps people understand the change being proposed, the rationale for the change, and the reason the status quo is no longer a viable option.
Strategy 3: Collaborate on Implementation
(Outcome: The Right Resources and Infrastructure) When leaders engage others in planning and piloting the change, they encourage collaboration in identifying the right resources and building the infrastructure needed to support the change.
Strategy 4: Make the Change Sustainable
(Outcome: Sustainable Results) Rather than simply announcing the change, leaders must make the change sustainable by providing people with the new skills, tools, and resources required to support the change. By modeling the behavior they expect of others, measuring performance, and praising progress, leaders create conditions for accountability and good results.
Strategy 5: Explore Possibilities
(Outcome: Options)Possibilities and options should be explored before a specific change is decided upon. By involving others in exploring possibilities, you immediately lower information concerns when a new change is announced, because people are “in the loop” about deciding what needs to change.
To summarize, here’s a good rule of thumb:
Organizations should spend ten times more energy reinforcing the change they just made than looking for the next great change to try.
Use these strategies to lead change in a way that leverages everyone’s creativity and commitment.
Want to learn more about a people-centered approach to change and leadership? Download a free 60-page summary of Leading at a Higher Level. It’s available for free on The Ken Blanchard Companies’ website and it contains the best thinking from the founding associates and consulting partners of our company. Use this link to access the summary.