Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 39 Change Through Persuasion

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When faced with the need for a massive change, most managers respond predictably by revamping the organisation's strategy, shift around staff, eliminate inefficiencies, etc. After this is done, managers wait for improvement to happen but are disappointed. The main reasons for this are

- most people are reluctant to alter their habits, especially if they have been successful

- unless there is a dire threat, most people are happy to continue working the same way

- if there are regular changes to senior management roles, the resistance to change is even stronger

- a legacy of disappointment and distrust creates an environment that is not suitable for change

- generally calls of sacrifice and self discipline are met with cynicism, skepticism and resistance

To make a change stick, managers must conduct an effective persuasion campaign, prior to start of any implementation - when uncertainty is high. The persuasion campaign should be based largely on differentiating from the past because all change plans look the same to change-averse staff.

The persuasion campaign should be based on a communication strategy that involves management:

- setting the stage for employees' acceptance of the intended change

- presenting a framework through which staff can interpret information and messages about the plan

- ensuring that the emotional states of staff support implementation and follow through

- providing at critical intervals reinforcement to ensure that the desired changes stick

Four phases of a persuasion campaign

Usually a change process consists of 2 phases - planned development and implementation.

For the change to be successful, a separate persuasion campaign needs to be started with the goal to create a continuous receptive environment for change

Phase 1 - convince employees that radical change is imperative; demonstrate why the new direction is the right one; find a shared sense of urgency.

Phase 2 - position the framed preliminary plan; announce the draft plan; gather feedback; announce the final plan. This needs to be put into a suitable "frame" that builds on the past but stresses the need to change so that there is no choice. Furthermore, answering anticipated questions and doubts about the new direction, and aiming to get ownership of the new direction

Phase 3 - start implementation; manage staffs' attitudes and moods through constant communication

Phase 4 - at critical intervals re-enforce the desired changes to avoid backsliding. Remember: the

"...goal is to change behaviour, not just ways of thinking..."

David Garvin et al, 2005

(source: David Garvin et al, 2005)


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