Changes in working environments happen more and more often nowadays. The reasons may be different: new challenges imposed by the market or by the customers, new technologies or new policies.

You can experience both personal changes and organisational changes. Personal changes may be transitions or career moves; organisational changes may be reorganisation or change in the managerial structure.

The main goal for the manager(s) taking the lead of the change is to get the buy-in of their staff and the other managers. They need to minimise the impact on productivity, reduce the adverse impact on stakeholders and achieve the desired outcomes as soon as possible.

A common reaction that you can expect is resistance to change. Have a look at the following graphics, that shows how it goes with individual emotions:

 

Resistance to change

 

A change consists in leaving an old situation, in which you are in your comfort zone because you can control the environment, to go in a new and unknown setting. To be able to do this, you need to perform some actions:

  1. Give flawless information and clear direction;
  2. Present the long-term vision and translate it into a step by step action plan;
  3. Involve as much as possible all the staff by sharing your leadership and assigning responsibilities.

John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert, introduced an eight-step change process in his 1995 book, “Leading Change.” Have a look at those eight steps for leading change:

  1. Create urgency: get everyone talking about the reasons for change
  2. Form a powerful coalition: find people at all levels and from across your organization who will support you
  3. Create a vision for change: sum up the difference that your change will make
  4. Communicate your vision: be clear and inspirational but honest too
  5. Remove obstacles: quickly tackle any processes or people who might be blocking change
  6. Create short-terms wins: set small goals that contribute to the big change, so that everyone can see and enjoy the progress
  7. Build on the change: practice your new processes to make sure they are solid. Keep looking out for opportunities to improve even more
  8. Anchor the change in your culture: celebrate and record every success, and recruit and retain people who share your values.

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