Andy Fleming, CEO & Founding Principal at Way to Grow, Inc. joined the show this month to tell us about Deliberately Developmental Organizations. Listen to learn what they are, and why you’d want your organization to be one, and how to go about implementing it in your organization.
Organizational change, or the change that happens at work, encompasses many different types of projects. While the general approach to influencing change is similar across projects, the specific details of how you implement each project will depend on what you’re trying to change. The first step towards customizing your change management approach is defining your change.
To help you identify the type of change you’re implementing, here are ten examples of organizational change projects. Do you see yours on the list?
In order to improve results, a manufacturer sought to involve more people in developing and implementing creative solutions. They empowered those most affected by the problems to come up with solutions, and fostered a team-based process improvement approach.
Starting Up a New Product or Service
A non-profit organization developed a new way to engage volunteers. The change impacted how the organization worked with outside partners and with the community. Internally, they worked to adopt and integrate the new service into the organization.
Based on a recent history of poor results, a manufacturer defined a new strategy to turn around the financial performance of the company. With a new vision and a plan for how the organization would work together to achieve it, they rallied to help the company succeed.
An electric utility moved its employees from many disparate locations to one brand new central facility. While the move was meant to save on costs, they also wanted to improve collaboration and instill a one-team mentality.
The HR and finance groups within a university installed a new software system to automate tasks and have better information for decisions. At the same time, they centralized their functions and standardized processes across dozens of departments.
A department of strong individual contributors struggled to work together as a team. To end blame and bickering, they came together to find their common goals, to discover each other’s strengths and personalities, and to learn how to communicate effectively.
Adopting a Process Framework
An airline adopted Lean Six Sigma concepts to increase agility and reduce waste across the operation. Employees applied new ways of working that ran counter to what is considered the “normal” way of doing things. (Agile software development would be another example of a process framework.)
Reorganizing and Redefining Roles
To push decision-making authority closer to the customer, a restaurant chain modified its franchise management structure, redefining roles and responsibilities across its many locations.
After an industrial accident illuminated an insufficient focus on safety, a manufacturer installed state-of-the-art safety equipment and pursued a safety culture in which safe behaviors and decisions were made above all else.
Implementing a Change Management Approach
To ensure the desired results of changes were achieved, a large company implemented a deliberate and people-centric approach to change. They provided project managers with the tools to design and influence change, and equipped department managers to be leaders of change.
When you set out to implement change at work, it helps to be able to describe the change succinctly. What result are you trying to achieve, and what needs to change in order to accomplish it? Once you define the change, it becomes easier to communicate what you’re trying to do, and the path forward becomes more clear.
How would you describe your change project? Does it fit into one (or more) of these categories, or would you add another?
In my Gain Leadership Support webinar, part of the Design & Influence Irresistible Change webinar series, one of the categories of leaders I encourage change agents to plan for are Snipers. Snipers are people who might blindside you if you’re not paying attention, by exerting their influence at an inopportune moment, destroying your project’s momentum. They’re hard to spot, but one question you can ask yourself is, “Who would I like to just stay out of the way?”
In today’s webinar, one of the attendees asked, how do you deal with snipers? I’ve seen two ways, and they’re complete opposites.
- Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. As much as you’d like them to stay out of your way, keeping them involved can help you monitor where they stand so they don’t surprise you one day. As much as you might dread it, consider it part of the politics you have to play to keep the change moving ahead.
- Hide the project so it’s off their radar. Provide yourself some cover so they really do stay out of the way. Implementing change without someone knowing is easier to do if they are far removed from the project, and if you don’ t have to rely on them to get something done.
Know that some people like to throw a wrench in things. That’s how they exert their power in the organization. If that’s the case, everyone else will know to take their words with a grain of salt. Usually, you can keep moving ahead after they’ve gone on to the next project to mess with. But their concerns and ill will can poison the well and cause doubt in the rest of the people involved. Best to avoid this situation if you can, and if you can’t, reframe their intrusion as a way to spur the team forward.
As the lines between our work and the rest of our lives blur, it seems more difficult to navigate and differentiate between the two. According to this month’s guest, Dr. Jane Goldner, author of You Can Have YOUR All, the key is not work-life balance, it’s role integration. Tune in to hear how to know if you or others have poor “work-life balance” and what the impact on the organization is, and how to go about implementing role integration concepts at work.
When you find yourself responsible for managing a change project at work, you might wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. It quickly becomes clear that the task is not as simple as letting people know what they should do and then standing back to let it happen, especially when you don’t have authority among those who need to change. Influencing change across even a subset of an organization takes a deliberate and continual effort by the individual or team that is trying to make it happen.
Whether the change was your idea or you’ve been delegated the task of implementing it, one of the first things to do is define the change. To determine what needs to be done to implement the change, first understand the current state of the organization and what the organization will look like when the project has been implemented. Figure out what is expected to change, and then dig deeper to determine the invisible elements, like attitudes and culture, that really need to change in order to sustain the end result.
The change initiative will ultimately be successful when employees change the way they work in a way that drives the results the organization is trying to achieve. As a change manager, you develop programs, tools, and systems to help drive that change. You find ways to communicate the sense of urgency, the inspiring vision, and the “What’s In It For Me,” to motivate action. When you invite people to participate in the effort and involve them in developing the change in their own area, you then let people feel like the change is theirs to implement. Share in the achievement, and let people take ownership by engaging them as early as possible in the change process.
Converting managers in your organization into leaders of change is crucial to your project’s success. Unfortunately, not all managers understand how to adequately support change. To that end, clearly define the role that different managers must play in order to lead change within their areas of authority. Supply them with project-specific tools, training and feedback to enable them to lead. Provide the means for leaders to support each other in the change effort and to align themselves across the organization.
Even with the best of engagement practices, some people will seem to dig in their heels against change: some people won’t participate, some will do so grudgingly, and others will exhibit behaviors you didn’t expect. Once you uncover the underlying reasons for this resistance, most of them are valid, or at least understandable. As a change manager, your responsibility is to anticipate the potential sources of resistance so you can work to mitigate them in advance, and then to reduce resistance once it inevitably happens. Start by listening. Instead of blaming people for their resistant behavior, seek to understand their experience of the change. Rather than try to overcome resistance, help people deal with their reaction and work through it so they can make the transition in a constructive way. Be willing to change your approach if it’s creating too much disruption.
Since change projects have lots of moving parts to coordinate, change managers are also project managers. Keep track of timelines, and monitor activities for dependencies and resource constraints. Measure progress against goals, set checkpoints, and take action to keep up momentum. Assign tasks and due dates, and ensure the accountability of those who commit to them. Plan meetings in advance and facilitate them so they successfully drive change forward. Manage all the nuts and bolts to keep your change project on track.
To effectively manage change, take on these key responsibilities and hold yourself accountable for doing them well. Doing so will help ensure that not only your change project succeeds, but that you become a successful change manager.
Looking for a resource to help you fulfill these responsibilities? Get practical tools, tips and templates in the Irresistible Change Guide Toolkit.