Managing Change: It Takes Time To Let Go

Managing Change: It Takes Time To Let Go

Did you ever experience this:
Top management announces their new plans in a (virtual) townhall meeting. They’ve spent months on defining a new strategy or organisation structure and it is shared with the employees in less than an hour…

A Powerpoint presentation full of information which many employees cannot relate to, ending the session with the infamous NEW ORG CHART….
And that’s it… announcement done… let’s move on?

  • MISTAKE 1: Management thinks this announcement is the end of the transformation, whereas it is actually the beginning
  • MISTAKE 2: Management assumes everyone understood the message
  • MISTAKE 3: Management expects everyone to follow the new way of working from that day onwards

In Change Management, taking care of the ‘Old’ is as important as defining the ‘New’.
Humans are hard wired to stay in their comfort zone. In order for people to embrace any change, they need to be ready to let go of the Old.

As a leader, we need to spend considerable time with our employees and guide them through the transition process.
There will be all kinds of thoughts like:
– will I lose my job?
– what’s wrong with my old way of working?
– why do I need to change?
– I don’t like the new structure
– I don’t know what is expected from me
– I don’t know if I am able to do my new job tasks
– I don’t know anyone in my new department

Forcing people to change won’t work most of the times. Understanding, acknowledging and supporting employees with their own personal transformation process is key. This takes time – for employees but also for the leaders.

A useful model to navigate through the change process is Kotter’s Change model:

Kotter’s Change Model

Kotter identified 8 steps for successful change management in organisations:

  • Create a sense of urgency: no change will happen if there is no sense of urgency. Explain employees WHY this change needs to happen RIGHT NOW;
  • Build a guiding coalition: senior management should be fully committed and involved to facilitate the change;
  • Form a strategic vision & initiatives: a strong vision and shared purpose are catalysators for change;
  • Enlist volunteer army: get enthusiastic ‘first adaptors’ on board
  • Enable action by removing barriers: take away any blocking issues that causes resistance;
  • Generate short-term wins: this helps to boost motivation;
  • Sustain acceleration: keeping momentum and focus;
  • Institute change: ensure that the change is lasting.

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