Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 58 Who Killed Change?

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Solving the mystery of leading people through change by identifying where it can go wrong.

The 13 usual suspects for killing change are culture, commitment, sponsorship, change team, communications, urgency, vision, plan, budget, trainer, incentives, performance management and accountability.


i) Culture - defines the predominant attitudes, beliefs and behavioural patterns that characterise the organisation. The role of culture is critical throughout the change process. To align culture to change, you have to

- determine how you can leverage the current culture to support, enable and sustain the change

- use sponsorship, accountability and incentive to reinforce the culture required to enable and sustain the change

- determine where the current culture is not aligned with the proposed change, and what actions are required to align the culture with the change

Some questions to consider

How would you describe your organisation's culture?

In what ways is your organisational culture conducive to successful change?

In what ways could your culture inhibit successful change?

How difficult will it be to change the culture?

What can you do to align the culture with a change?

ii) Commitment - builds a person's motivation and confidence to engage in the new behaviours; increases people's commitment to change by

- encouraging open communications where questions and concerns can be expressed and answered

- creating opportunities to maximise involvement and influence by those being impacted by the change

- encouraging long-term, sustainable commitment to the new ways of doing business rather than short-term compliance

- creating opportunities for change advocates to influence others in the organisation

Some questions to consider

Have people, who are being impacted by the change, had the opportunity to express their views?

What avenues are being used to address and answer staff's concerns?

Are staff members getting adequate chances to become involved and to influence the change process and its key strategies?

How are change advocates communicating the change strategies, processes, etc to staff in the rest of the organisation?

How will you gain people's commitment to the change process?

iii) Sponsorship - senior manager(s) has the ultimate responsibility for success of the change and formal authority to deploy resources, such as time, money and people, for the initiation, implementation and sustainability. The senior manager have responsibility for

- selecting and aligning the change team to lead the change on a daily basis

- getting commitment and securing buy-in for change by understanding and handling concerns and getting ownership of the decision-making process from those who have been asked to change

- role modeling the appropriate behaviours, ie actions speak louder than words

- using rewards to recognise and reinforce behaviours supporting the change

- encouraging accountability by demonstrating that leadership is serious about the change

Some questions to consider

Are senior management's behaviours supporting the change?

Does senior management realise what the expected behaviours are?

If senior management doesn't realise what is expected of them, how will they be educated?

iv) Change Team - the change advocates who actively guide and lead the change by using their 'web of connections' within the organisation; they are speaking with one voice and resolving the concerns of staff impacted by the change; they have daily responsibility for implementing the change strategies, processes, etc that deliver the outcomes required of the change initiative. In this team are people who

- have a history of successful change efforts

- are given time to be involved

- have the respect of their colleagues

- are willing to challenge authority and status quo

- are effective communicators

- represent diverse viewpoints, etc

Some questions to consider

Do you have the right people and skills in the change team?

Are the members of the change team speaking with one voice?

How are members of the change team cascading the change initiatives, etc throughout the organisation?

v) Communications - create opportunities for dialogue between management and staff about the change. Effective change communication involves

- focusing on creating dialogue and two way communication, especially between change advocates/leaders and the rest of the organisation

- essentially 'communicate, communicate, communicate' using every available medium, ie communicate at least 7 times and in 7 different ways

- communication messages which are consistent, credible and aligned with the change

Some questions to consider

How effective is the communication regarding the change?

How can you improve the effectiveness of the communications?

Are all concerns and questions about the change being raised and addressed?

How can we improve conversations between advocates of change and the rest of the organisation, especially those sitting on the fence?

Urgency - understanding why the change is needed; urgent and immediate need for staff to change the way they work; need a sense of urgency to handle the inertia of maintaining the status quo. Creating a sense of urgency can be done by

- making staff face reality by sharing information and identifying the gap between current situation and what it could be

- identifying what is wrong with the current situation and providing credible, believable reasons for change

- identifying shared dissatisfaction/discontent with the status quo

- framing the change in terms of what is motivating

Some questions to consider

Do people understand the need to change from the status quo?

Is there a shared sense of urgency within the organisation about the need to change?

How to increase the shared sense of urgency about the need to change?

Vision - paints a clear and compelling picture of the future after the change has been integrated successfully; get staff focused on the change. A vision should

- work with a sense of urgency to break the inertia of the status quo

- be more than a slogan and paint a clear picture of what the future looks like when the change is successfully implemented

- get staff involved in the visioning process so that they have ownership of the vision

- encourage staff to see themselves succeeding in the picture of the future

Some questions to consider

What excites the staff about the post-change organisation?

How different and better will future roles in the organisation be?

Plan - clarifies the priority of the change, relative to other initiatives and responsibilities; shows how implementation will occur; defines the allocation of resources to implementing change. An efficient planning process involves

- using resisters to identify what can go wrong

- providing enough support for advocates and staff implementing the change

- clarifying priorities

- defining criteria which will identify success

- selecting advocates/early adapters in pilot projects to tackle the challenge of making the change work

- using the concept of 'quick wins' to encourage the fence sitters to support the change

- making sure adequate resources are available for the change process

Some questions to consider

How effective is your planning process (keeping in mind the above criteria)?

How can you improve the change process and the plan?

vi) Budget - allocates financial figures, such as costs and revenues, to activities impacted by the change; determines the ROI of the change. Important points to consider in the budget include

- senior management's ownership and control of the budget

- ensuring there are adequate resources allocated

- leveraging off methods which generate buy-in, such as walking the talk, reinforcing desired behaviours, communications with fence sitters, etc

Some questions to consider

Does senior management have commitment to the budget requirements?

Do the critical levers of change have enough resources allocated?

Are there any areas receiving a larger budget than necessary?

vii) Trainer - trains staff in the skills needed to have a successful change implementation. An effective change trainer has the following characteristics

- able to assess the situation and people who are being asked to change

- equipped with a variety of change implementation strategies, tools and techniques

- credibility with people being asked to change so that they feel comfortable to voice their concerns, influence the change process and increase the buy-in to the change

- understands the skill gaps in staff in implementing the change and provides the training to bridge the gaps

Some questions to consider

Do you have the necessary skills and commitment to train those implementing change?

Are you providing the necessary training so that staff have the skills to implement change?

Are you focusing on training change advocates so that they can communicate to and handle staff, especially those 'sitting on the fence"

What are the skill barriers?

What strategies and training are required to overcome these barriers?

viii) Incentive - recognise and/or reward staff who reinforce the desired behaviours required for successful change implementation; use monetary and non-monetary recognition. Effective incentives need to

- align desired behaviours and performance

- be available to all staff

- keep a balance between all performance goals (don't just focus on change goals)

Some questions to consider

Do you know what motivates individual staff?

What creative ideas do you have to recognise people for their hard work, desired behaviours and good performance?

ix) Performance Management - set goals and expectations regarding behaviours and results that are important for a successful change implementation; monitor and evaluate progress towards the goals and expectations, and document actual results versus desired results; provide feedback; introduce appropriate training for staff. The performance management process needs to

- track progress against the goals and expectations

- provide feedback and coaching

- document actual results versus desired results

Some questions to consider

Is there clarity around how performance will be measured, ie lead and lag indicators?

Is there ongoing evaluation, including risk assessment?

Do staff understand what is being measured?

Are staff being provided with data and feedback on performance relative to expectations?

Do staff understand the consequences of achieving or not achieving expectations?

x) Accountability - check that behaviours and results are aligned with agreed goals and expectations; ensure management and staff are 'walking the talk'; develop ways to handle behaviours and/or results that are inconsistent with the change implementation. Hallmarks of effective accountability are

- clearly defined measures of success, ie goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and trackable/time bound)

- frequent meetings that evaluate progress, and modify plans and actions to implement change successfully

- two way accountability between senior management and staff, ie each is accountable to the other

- no favouritism, ie everyone is held accountable.


"what leaders do is twice as important as what they say, and what leaders reinforce is three times as important as what they say"

Ken Blanchard et al, 2009

Some questions to consider

Are senior management and staff holding themselves and others accountable for implementing the change?

What skills, processes, etc are used by senior management and staff to successfully hold people accountable for behaviours and performance?

Can these skills, processes, etc be replicated elsewhere in the organisation?

(source Ken Blanchard et al, 2009)


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