Factors Common to Successful Change Management
Committed Leadership and Change Management
Role of Leadership
The role of leadership in any change management is repeatedly cited as the number one contributor to change success.
The earlier in the project life cycle an organization’s leaders engage in the change, the more useful they can be at building acceptance of the change by those who are affected by it.
Change starts at the top and an organization’s leaders must be the visionaries, champions and role models for change. Whether change comes easily or proves difficult to achieve depends in part on the atmosphere - the organizational culture and climate - that an organization’s leaders create.
Visible Support – Setting the Example
Successful change management requires a large commitment from an organization’s leaders, regardless of whether the change is occurring in one section or across the whole organization.
Change is inherently unsettling for people, and when it is happening all eyes turn to the organization’s leaders for support and direction. They play a key role in promoting and sustaining the impetus for the change, (sometimes even coaching other executives) and in developing and communicating a shared sense of the way forward.
Fundamentally the onus is on the organization’s leaders to change first, motivate the rest of the organization, set the example and model desired behavior.
It is not just support from senior leaders that is required, support from leaders at all levels is critical to the acceptance of change within an organization. Capturing the hearts and minds of key informal and formal leaders, having them commit to the change and empowering others to act is a critical success factor.
Change efforts need to be “pushed” throughout the organization, with leaders delegating both the responsibility and authority to make decisions about the change, grounded on a clear change vision, to managers at all levels. This delegation of decision-making authority helps both to reduce blockages and increase buy-in from individuals affected by the change.
Visible Support – Setting the Example (Continued)
Leaders and managers throughout the organization should be expected to support and communicate the benefits of change to their peers and employees - change needs to be “cascaded” through the organization, with real change happening at each level.
This requires more than mere buy-in or passive agreement that the direction of change is acceptable. It demands ownership by leaders willing to accept responsibility for making change happen in all of the areas they influence or control.
A key role of the Change Sponsor is to ensure that the organization’s leaders continue to be involved throughout the change.
Their engagement is necessary throughout the full change project life cycle, as acceptance of the change must be evident in each phase of change, with leaders exhibiting stamina and patience throughout the project to continuously engage with stakeholders.
The organization’s leaders two critical duties throughout change process are:
Assess Readiness and Make Adjustments
The state of readiness for change will shift over time, and may differ in different parts of the organization. It is dynamic and will require adjustment/correction to achieve desired outcomes. Organizational leaders play an important role in monitoring, assessing and understanding different area's capacity to take on and succeed in change.
By assessing change readiness across the organization, potential roadblocks, areas that require remedial actions and areas of best practice can be identified.
Take Action to Resolve Issues
Throughout the change, issues will arise that will require the organization’s leaders to intervene and take decisive action.
Leaders must maintain their authority to decide on issues that may impact not only their team/group but others within the organization, escalate issues, as appropriate, to more senior leadership and push for timely resolution, or delegate this decision-making authority to others and support the final decision.
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