Make the change
Move the organization
Studies show repeatedly that major changes are very difficult to implement. The vast majority of organizations are challenged by the fact that most managers and employees prefer to do as they are used to. The necessary changes are executed slowly if at all and even minor changes demand vast resources before they are implemented.
There are a number of classic mistakes that, despite the best of intentions, are often present in change processes:
- The ambition is too vague and irrelevant for the employees
- The management task in the change process is too vague
- The change is perceived as a critique by the employees
- The change is explained, while the emotions that the change brings are neglected
- Employees are involved too little and too late
- Change is driven only through the management system
- Training and competency development are initiated prematurely
- The communication process is sporadic
Therefore, we recommend that changes are implemented in a structured, systematic process where both leaders and employees play a very active role during the process.
The management task is above all to:
- Describe the ambition and define the tasks to be solved
- Define the specific tasks in close interaction with the employees
- Apply a transparent and systematic process
We ensure that the management task is solved and that every single leader receives the necessary support to drive the process forward. We call it “Leadership by design”: Rather than training skills and management theory, we challenge leaders and teams with specific tasks, follow-up on the implementation and ensure coordination both horizontally and vertically in the organization. It is effective because it is “learning by doing”.
In addition, we recommend that:
- You identify the people who are most trusted among the employees – typically 3% of the organization
- You involve this group deeply in the design of the change process
- You invite this group to continually gather input from employees about the challenges and emotions that are in the organization
- You help the group communicate this input directly to the company’s top management
- You communicate how input from the group has influenced decisions in a structured, ongoing way
This creates an effective and engaging change process where leadership capacity is scaled. Our experience is that it greatly increases the speed of implementation.
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Powerful tools and counseling
Using opinion leaders
In change processes, we recommend identifying the people who are most trusted among the employees. These persons are sometimes referred to as informal leader. It makes more sense to call them opinion leaders because they are the ones people go to when they need help or there is something they want to understand, clarify or discuss. Opinion leaders have a huge influence on how reality is perceived in your organization and on “the talk of the town”.
This entails opportunities and challenges. We recommend to involve opinion leaders in two activities:
- Involve opinion leaders in the discussions of why the change is necessary and how it should be implemented.
- Invite opinion leaders to help you understand how people in the organization experience the changes you are going through
In this way the opinion leaders will contribute to a more realistic process of change and to create clarity about the real issues and challenges that employees face.
Together with Culturedrivers or Innovisor, we conduct an analysis that creates an overview of the company’s informal network. We use the overview as input for a discussion with the company’s management about how we can approach the change process in the most effective way.