8 Steps for Managing Change
We live in a world where change is normal. Whatever type of change you are considering, people will feel uneasy or threatened. When change is well planned and systematically implemented, people are more likely to engage in and support it.
John Kotter, long-time Harvard Business School Professor and founder of Kotter International consultancy firm, outlined 8 steps in his book, “Leading Change.” (1996, Harvard Business Press) Below is a condensed version. See his book for expanded tips.
Step 1: Create a sense of urgency around the need for change.
Open an honest and convincing dialogue about the reasons for change. If many people start talking about the change you propose, the urgency can build and feed on itself. 75 percent of a company’s management needs to “buy into” the change.
Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition – bring together key stakeholders, gain their commitment and form them into a strong team. Make sure there is diversity in talents, experience, and skills.
Step 3: Create a Vision for Change – help everyone understand why you’re asking them to do something. When people see for themselves what you’re trying to achieve, the directives they’re given make more sense.
Step 4: Communicate the Vision – frequently and powerfully, and embed it within everything that you do. Talk about it every chance you get. Use the vision daily to make decision and solve problems.
Step 5: Remove Obstacles
- Identify, or hire, change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change.
- Ensure that your organizational structure is in line with your vision.
- Recognize and reward people for making change happen.
- Identify people who are resisting the change, and help them see what’s needed.
- Take action to quickly remove barriers (human or otherwise).
Step 6: Create Short-Term Wins – give your company a taste of victory early in the change process. Establish smaller targets that are achievable with little room for failure.
Step 7: Build on the Change – many change projects fail because victory is declared too early. Real change runs deep. Set goals and aim for continuous improvement.
Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture – the new values behind your vision must show in day-to-day work. Company leaders must continue to support the change.
Model the way. “Walk the talk.” Demonstrate the behavior you are looking for.
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