5 Key Steps to Manage Change Effectively


businessman-hand-draws-solving-problem-diagram

By Maggie Carey

So you’ve uncovered the root cause of a problem in your organization, and you’re ready to plan and implement change. Improving organization performance and effectiveness can be a very exciting time period, but there are also many barriers that can be quite daunting. Whether you are planning for a simple change in a small group or implementing an enterprise-wide business transformation, keeping these five steps in mind can help you to effectively manage change.



1. Motivate change.


One of the most important elements to managing change is motivating those involved in and affected by the change. The two significant ingredients to motivating change are: 1) creating change readiness and 2) proactively combatting resistance to change. While many companies recognize that there might be resistance to the proposed change, they often overlook the importance of creating change readiness. The two components of motivating change go hand-in-hand. If you are able to convince those involved in and affected by the proposed change that the current state is not satisfactory and a desired future state will better the lives of the individual, the group, and the entire organization, then there will be less resistance throughout implementation.

2. Create a clear vision.


After motivating change, it goes without saying that creating a clear vision is essential to achieving the envisioned goal state. However, this is where the change can fall apart before it even gets started. When constructing a clear vision it is imperative that the vision provides clear direction for designing and implementing, but most of all, it is imperative that the vision is achievable. A vision can either energize or depress motivations to participate in change; if it seems that the envisioned plan cannot possibly be implemented into current state, your vision likely won’t be achieved. Know your organization and create a clear vision that aligns accordingly.

3. Develop support.


Managing the political dynamics of organizational change can either be one of your best catalysts or biggest barriers for change. There are three significant ways to develop political support. First, assess the power and the resources of the change agent (the person leading the change). Assessing this power can allow the change agent to recognize who and how to influence others to support the change. Second, identify key stakeholders. All organizations have individuals and/or groups that can sway the organization to help or hinder the change. Identify these stakeholders and gain their support. Third, influence the stakeholders. After gaining support of the stakeholders, think about how you will strategically utilize this power to motivate change. There are several strategies to influence stakeholders including playing it straight and using social networks.

4. Manage the transition.


In order to get from current state to desired future state, there should be a transition period in which an organization works out any kinks and learns how to properly implement. Managing this transition will require activity planning, commitment planning, and managing structures. Activity planning might include roadmapping or planning events necessary for the change. Commitment planning involves identifying key roles, people, and their commitment needed to implement change. Managing structures will need to be developed as the ambiguity of change management arises; managing structures will be essential to direct and implement portions of the change process.

5. Sustain momentum.


As you begin your change management journey, it’s important to keep the ball rolling! As barriers arise it’s easy for motivation to depress and engagement to lower. Sometimes it might seem easiest to go back to the old ways of doing things, but remember why you started this change. It’s the change agent’s job to keep members of the change process involved and excited for the change through all of the ups and downs. These tasks can help to sustain momentum: provide resources, construct a support system for change agents, reinforce new behaviors that are in-line with the new vision, and persist!

References
Organization Development and Change Chapter Ten: Leading and Managing Change
Thomas G. Cummings; Christopher G. Worley