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Expert Advice from a Change Management Guru

Vanessa Judelman

President, Mosaic People Development

I have a question for you.

Have you ever learned how to manage change properly?

Have you ever taken a change management course?

If not, you are not alone. The large majority of leader have never been taught how to manage change.

This is problematic.

Why?

Well, most leaders are required to manage several change initiatives every year.  Managing change is incredibly complex.

Hence, you’ve likely noticed that the majority of change management initiatives in organizations are not successful.

In fact, the research indicates that 70% of organizational change initiatives fail.

This week, I had a terrific conversation with my client Julia who happens to be a change management expert.

She has had formal training in this area. Plus, within her organization, she manages several very large-scale change initiatives annually and implements them extremely well.

So, I asked Julia if she has advice for leaders who have had little formal change management training. She suggested the following three strategies.

Strategy one: Recognize the need for a comprehensive, high-touch communication strategy. Too many change initiatives are communicated via email. Often, a senior person will send out one email detailing the change. They then expect the change will be operationalized immediately.  Unfortunately, this is NOT how it works. People need to hear any message 6-7 times before they will take action with confidence. Julia uses a very comprehensive high-touch approach. She communicates the change in many different ways over time.

Strategy two: Get buy-in from your key-stakeholder. Julia is part of her organization’s executive team. She reports to the CEO. Firstly, she ensures that the CEO is on-side with any change that her team will be facilitating. Then she presents the change initiative to her peers. If the other members of the executive team do not buy-in, she knows her change initiative will be a failure. She has learned how to articulate the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) to her peers so they understand the positive impact that the change will have on their team.

Strategy three: Solicit input from your colleagues across the organization. Your change initiative will fail if the rest of the organization does not buy-in. Seek input from your colleagues early and often in the change process. This will strengthen their commitment to the change. It will also help you to understand their specific requirements.

Regardless of your level in your organization, you can be an effective change agent. I bet you can find a way to take each strategy detailed above and leverage it to enhance whatever change initiative you have on your plate.

So…

Think about your communication strategy and plan 6-7 ways to tell people about your change initiative.

Consider who you need to get buy-in from to make the change happen.

Finally, get other people from across your organization involved.

If not, your change initiative just might become part of that dreaded 70%.

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