Change Management

What does your organization need to do to ensure that it can safely and effectively navigate the turbulent waters of change?

What can you do to help smoothly and efficiently make the necessary changes to maintain or grow your organization’s mission related impact and financial sustainability? How can you reduce or eliminate inevitable resistance to change from employees, customers, board members, outside stakeholders, and others?

Here’s how Kela’s Effective Change Management Coaching, Training, and Tools can help you:

1.     Communicate the urgency of the need for change: John Kotter, a leader in change management, has written that organizations needing to implement sudden and large scale changes must first call out the “burning platform.”[i] This is a compelling demonstration that the organization’s current condition, status, and behavior must change because the “current state” platform is burning, and it is no longer safe to stay the current course. Key Tools: An emotionally and factually compelling case statement that explains why change is essential for the organization’s survival and that motivates recipients to be open to change.  

 2.    Clarify the vision: To transform the reluctant or skeptical stakeholder into active leaders, proponents, and supporters of change, they need to see the picture of the desirable future state toward which the change will lead.  WHAT is the organization’s new direction? WHERE is the organization moving TO?  HOW will this new direction/destination further the organization’s fundamental mission, vision, impact, and financial strength? WHAT will the passage look like and WHAT will be done to make it easier and mitigate the inevitable bumps in the road?  Effective leaders tell a compelling visual story.  Key Tool: A clear vision statement that unifies and inspires stakeholders, perhaps free-standing, perhaps part of the basic case statement.  It helps to include with this vision statement a simple but credible picture of the Theory of Change or Theory of Impact, which visually depicts the major steps by which the necessary changes are expected to produce the desired results.

 3.    Ensure/secure commitment from top leadership of the organization: There must be no doubt of top leadership’s commitment to change. It needs to be expressed multiple times in multiple ways. This helps persuade potential objectors that change will happen and resistance will do little good.  The cadre of change leaders must be expanded and expanding. Key Tool: an array of communication messages and channels, all consistently communicating the importance, inevitability, and value of change and the top leaders’ support for it.

  4. Nurture a culture of collaboration for buy-in: Employees, customers, and other stakeholders are more likely to buy in to change if they believe that their views have been solicited, heard, and paid attention. Collective wisdom will produce better change.  While certain things about the change are given, others are flexible or even fluid. Key Tools: Co-intelligence generating/harvesting processes, which elicit and acknowledge good ideas for effective implementation of the change and enlist broader buy-in for the change.

 5.   Wow ‘em With “WIIFM”: Change management is not an event. It is a campaign that takes time and persistence to mobilize supporters and allies and woo and win over those whose reluctance, fear, skepticism, or resistance can sabotage the necessary change.  In each case, it will be important to get clear about and communicate effectively “WIIFM” – WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? Key Tools: Interview guides, questionnaires, research articles, focus groups, and other intelligence gathering mechanisms, to find out and document what can motivate your employees to see the coming changes as beneficial for them as well as for the organization and the people it serves.  

 6.    Combine Consistency, Accountability and Support: For employees in particular, it will be critically important to combine expectations of accountability to actively embrace the change(s) with support to help those who experience challenges in knowing how to do this. Employees must feel safe, even encouraged, to raise legitimate questions or concerns about the change(s).  They must not, however, be permitted to engage in subterfuge, sabotage or passive resistance.  Performance management expectations must be made clear and inconsistencies dealt with forthrightly and promptly.  Key Tools: guides for 1-on-1 two way feedback sessions, coaching, and peer coaching, to create clear expectations and support systems for pro-change accountability.

 7.  Seize the Low Hanging Fruit; Measure and Report on Success: Those who face change(s) not chosen by them need to see early benefit of the change(s).  That’s why achieving early wins by seizing low hanging fruit is so important for effective change management. To sustain support, change management leaders need to create and be transparent about clear metrics of success and actual performance against those success metrics: Key Tools:  Strategies for identifying and seizing low-hanging fruit; SMART goals for change management.[ii]

 To explore more about how the suite of Kela Associates services and products – including customized Change Management Coaching and/or Training sessionscan benefit your organization in managing essential and/or inevitable changes, please contact or call 301-339-8895.

[i] Kotter, Leading Change (1996) and On What Leaders Really Do, Harvard Business School Press (1999).

[ii] SMART goals are goals that are Specific; Measurable; Aggressive yet achievable, Relevant to mission, vision, and values; and Time-bound.