Eight Steps to Leading Successful Change
One of my favorite books on change is John Kotter’s outstanding book – Leading Change. I have listed it as a must read for all my leadership development clients. And, since change has and will become an even bigger topic in the coming years, I felt it would be good to provide you with a quick summary of his book.
First, Kotter’s book – Leading Change – describe a very helpful model and process for effectively leading change now and in the future. He overviews how to understand and then manage change through different stages. He points out the importance of your people in the change process. In fact, he was one of the first to point out that your people must believe in the need for the change before it will happen.
The responses of your people will have more bearing on the success of the change project than any other factor. So here are the eight steps or stages of leading change:
- Increase Urgency – Inspire your people to take action, move forward and achieve real targets.
- Build the Guiding Team – Choose the right people to lead your change, checking for emotional commitment to the change process. Also, pick people with the right skills and strengths to make the change happen.
- Get the Vision Right – Establish a clear yet simple vision with a definitive strategy. Focus on gaining emotional support and promote creative ideas and solutions that will drive effectiveness and efficiency of implementation.
- Communicate for Buy-In – Involve as many people within the organization as possible. Encourage their communication with everyone about the essentials of the project. Appeal to everyone and respond immediately to their requests for action. Make certain that technology is working for you during this critical period.
- Empower Action – Remove any barriers including current policies or rules that would hinder progress, enable the lines of communication and feedback from the people. Reward and recognize the progress and achievements made by both teams and individuals.
- Create Short-term Wins – Set goals and targets that can be achieved. This is very important in the early stages of making change happen – there has to be success for people to get more involved and participant in further achievement. Yet, when possible, start with a high profile goal or target so people will be actively watching the progress of the change initiative.
- Don’t Give Up – Encourage an environment of determination and persistence to enable change. Encourage on-going progress reports highlighting achievements and future milestones to be achieved next.
- Make the Change Stick – Reinforce the value and benefit of successful change. Actions such as who is recruited for important positions, who is promoted (think walk the talk), new additions to the change teams, who are the team leaders. Finally, put change into the center of the culture and organizational environment.
There you have the eight steps or stages to successfully lead change within your organization. Make it happen immediately if you have no change projects ongoing today. The future is going to involve change as part of the normal practice of business. Get a head start and make improvements using change as your centerpiece for action commitments.