DELIVER THE CHANGE – A CHECK LIST FOR BEING A GOOD CHANGE AGENT

“Everything I do has to be of service to other people and totally exciting for me.” Rob Brezsny,

They identify opportunities for change and act on them– instead of just talking about it or waiting for someone else to take the lead. We admire them for their energy and courage” Jennifer Louden

So what is a Change Agent –  quite simply it is somebody or something that brings about, or helps to bring about, change!  In Change Management it is usually a person whose presence or thought processes cause a change from the traditional way of handling or thinking about a problem to a new way of thinking.  The result of change agent activity is to enable people to do more, or find a new and better perspective on work and to achieve a new corporate vision.  It’s a special role but one we might all aspire to!  Here’s what I think it takes!

A change agent has Vision. Regardless of what is going on today, a change agent has a vision to see what could be!  This can be from their own thinking or being able to understand a vision articulated by someone else!   To a certain extent, a change agent is dissatisfied with what they see around them, and the status quo.   They are looking for something better and without this future drive, the change agent can lose their way.

A change agent can communicate. Change agents can communicate their vision to those about them.  They can share and paint you a picture that can fire your enthusiasm!  You want to follow their lead!

A change agent has passion. Change is hard work. It takes a lot of energy. Don’t underestimate this. Without passion, it is very difficult indeed to muster up enough energy to assault the fortress of status quo that seems to otherwise carry the day.

A change agent is self-motivated. There will be many days where everyone around does not seem understand where a change agent is trying to lead. The change agent needs to find it within themselves to live with being misunderstood and knowing that the real validation may be far in the future and may be claimed by someone else.

A change understands people. At the end of the day, change is about people. If you change everything but the people, I doubt you’ll be effective as a change agent. Change will really “stick” when people embrace it. Therefore, change is part sales, part counseling and part encouragement. It’s all about people.

A change agent can empathize. To be successful a change agent needs to be able to see change from the perspective of those being asked to change and understand and manage their discomfort.  It is important to understand, but not to sympathize with them to the point where you cannot function.  A change agent needs to be able to manage their own feelings without being cold!  It really helps to have a deep commitment to the Vision

A change agent has fortitude. To get up and do this job every day takes real inner strength! A tough change will take all your energy, strength and good will but my word will it be rewarding at the end

WHY CHANGE HURTS!

“Change hurts. It makes people insecure, confused, and angry. People want things to be the same as they’ve always been, because that makes life easier. But, if you’re a leader, you can’t let your people hang on to the past.”  Richard Marcinko

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw quotes

An article in Strategy + Business from Booz Allen & Hamilton, The Neuroscience of Leadership, way back in 2006 , described how change hurts and how people respond to that hurt. Generally people respond to change with resistance even when it is a matter of personal survival,  This is because the brain works by relegating routine tasks to a part of the brain that requires little energy – freeing up the more energy-intensive part to process new things.   Dealing with new things can be a  very intensive and tiring experience. The same is true with organizational change. People become used to a routine at work and fall into using the equivalent of auto-pilot.  When you introduce change you engage the more intense part of the brain

But that is not all – there is another force at work in the brain that resists change. The brain is very much wired to detect “errors” in its environment – perceived differences between expectations and what it is actually finding. When it thinks an error has detected, it triggers the fright and flight mechanism.  This is one of the most primitive parts of the brain and was used to protect us in earlier stages in our development..  This fires up our reactions – the heart begins to pump blood ready for us to run away!   It hijacks our thinking.  We can become emotional and start acting impulsively – our protective animal instinct takes over.

So when you ask people to engage in change – their brain will start sending powerful warning signals  that something is going wrong.  They may well become uncomfortable and feel stress.  But if you can get them to focus on something – a particular problem or process – they will be distracted and start to develop new neural connections.  If these are reinforced enough they will become part of their subconscious.  If you can get them engaged in actively imagining the change – the fright effect will soften as the other parts of the brain take over.   But  If you start forcing actions on them without engagement you will increase the negative reaction.

So what is the best way to approach change.  Well the same study found that if the brain has a “moment of insight” coming from within (coming to a solution/conclusion by itself),  there may be sudden adrenaline-like burst of high energy. This is conducive to creating new links in the brain. So if you focus people on solutions instead of problems, they will have their own in-sights, come to their own conclusions and forge their own new links.

All this is useful but at the  end of the day, as a change manager, the choice is yours!   Do you want to engage with fright, flight, resistance and negativity?   Wouldn’t you rather share the task, go for active engagement and make the change a more positive experience for all!

WELL ESTABLISHED WAYS TO MANAGE CHANGE – THE KOTTER MODEL – STEP EIGHT:ANCHOR THE CHANGE

In an earlier post we said there were a number of recognized approaches to structuring a change management programme and we introduced the Kotter model

The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organization or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. we have already dealt with Step One: Create Urgency, Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition, Step Three: Create a Vision for Change, Step Four: Communicate the Vision , Step Five: Remove Obstacles , Step Six: Create Short-term Wins and Step Seven: Build on the Change

Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture

Last step, to make any change stick, it has to become part of the core of your organization! Your corporate culture often determines what gets done, so the values behind your vision must be shown in day-to-day work.

You should make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your organization. This will help give that change a solid place in your organization’s culture.

It’s also important that your company’s leaders continue to support the change. This includes existing staff and any new leaders who are brought in. If you lose the support of these people, you could end up back where you started.

What you can do:

  • Talk about progress every chance you get. Tell success stories about the change process, and repeat other stories that you hear. Give everyone a clear picture!
  • Include the change ideals and values when hiring and training new staff.
  • Publicly recognize key members of your original change coalition, and make sure the rest of the staff – new and old – remembers their contributions.
  • Publicly reward people who demonstrate the change in their behavior – even if it is just a word in the office at their desks.
  • Create plans to replace key leaders of change as they move on. This will help ensure that their legacy is not lost or forgotten.

WELL ESTABLISHED WAYS TO MANAGE CHANGE – THE KOTTER MODEL – STEP SEVEN:BUILD ON THE CHANGE

In an earlier post we said there were a number of recognized approaches to structuring a change management programme and we introduced the Kotter model

The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organization or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. we have already dealt with Step One: Create Urgency, Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition, Step Three: Create a Vision for Change, Step Four: Communicate the Vision , Step Five: Remove Obstacles and Step Six: Create Short-term Wins

Step Seven: Build on the Change

Kotter argues that many change projects fail because victory is declared too early. Real change runs deep and takes time. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change – make sure you take enough time!

Launching one new product using a new system is great. But you may need  launch 10 products to ensure that the new system is well embedded and really working. To reach that 10th success, you need to keep looking for improvements.

Each success provides an opportunity to build on what went right and identify what you can improve.

What you can do:

  • After every win, analyze what went right and what needs improving.
  • Set goals to continue building on the momentum you’ve achieved.
  • Learn about the idea of continuous improvement
  • Keep ideas fresh by bringing in new change agents and leaders for your change coalition.

WELL ESTABLISHED WAYS TO MANAGE CHANGE – THE KOTTER MODEL – STEP SIX:CREATE SHORT-TERM WINS

In an earlier post we said there were a number of recognized approaches to structuring a change management programme and we introduced the Kotter model

The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organization or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. we have already dealt with Step One: Create Urgency, Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition, Step Three: Create a Vision for Change, Step Four: Communicate the Vision and Step Five: Remove Obstacles

Step Six: Create Short-term Wins

Nothing motivates and gives people confidence more than success. Give your company and your team a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of change), you’ll want to have results that your top team and staff can see. Without this, critics, negative thinkers and cynics might hurt your progress.

Create short-term targets which build up to your long- term goal rather than just one long-term goal. You want each smaller target to be achievable, with little room for failure. Your change team may have to work very hard to come up with these targets, but each “win” that you produce can further motivate and inspire  the entire organization.

What you can do:

  • Look for sure-fire projects that you can implement relatively quickly and without help from any strong critics of the change.
  • Don’t choose early targets that are expensive. You want to be able to justify the investment in each project.
  • Thoroughly analyze the potential pros and cons of your targets and make sure you really understand what is required. If you don’t succeed with an early goal, it can hurt your entire change initiative.
  • Reward the people who help you meet the targets.
  • Publicize what you have done

THOUGHTS ON VISIONING AND 10 WAYS TO BE BETTER AT VISIONING

Creating a vision is critical to the success of any programme and particularly Change Progammes – here are some thoughts from Coaching-Businesses-to-Success.Com
Top Ten Things About Visioning

To visualise where you are going, is deeper and more sensory than anything you have ever done before…
And these are the skills of those who are able to create a vision you can really live and breathe…:-

  1. Are Focused
    They are able to visualise in a focused and very clear way what ‘perfect’ will truly look like in the future.
  2. Involve Others
    Bring others into the contribution, such that they might try things they might never have before.
  3. Realise Core Strengths
    Whilst being ultra-keen to grow and evolve, these people are true to the core strengths of the organisation and see the future through that.
  4. Take Time Out
    Make the time for themselves and help others to free up thinking room. And use it fully.
  5. Play the Game
    They encourage a creative environment and take full part personally. They themselves set out to find ways of generating novel and fun ways to make this live.
  6. Think Big
    Top class visions may even be unattainable within lifetimes and are often part of a bigger legacy. many major corporations have 50-year (and more!) visions.
  7. Use Their Senses
    A vital part of Visioning is to be able to use all five senses as fully as possible and alos that wonderful sixth sense, the one of intuition.
  8. Are Knowledgeable
    They keep their eyes and ears open and are fully aware of the possibilities. they suck in information and ideas to help form their thinking. Media, other people, non-business analogies and metaphors too.
  9. Put Aside Beliefs
    Great visionaries can shift themselves into a different dimension when looking at the future and leave their existing beliefs outside the room.
  10. Are Evangelists
    They shout the outcome vision from the rooftops, relating so well to all of their people. They explains it in words which mean something to all involved in future success.
Ten Ways to be Better at Visioning
  1. Get Everyone Onboard
    Create a place and time when as many of your people as possible can get involved. If you can manage 10 or 1000, then do it.
  2. Create an Environment
    Get basics right. Make things feel comfortable when undertaking this activity. Make it a safe place to share. Ensure everyone involved is as relaxed and in a place to contribute.
  3. Experience Fully
    Encourage a ‘virtual walkthrough’ of the future, using good facilitation skills. Get into the moment.
  4. Keep Outputs Individual
    Make sure that everyone is able to contribute in their own way to clear the way for extraordinary insights.
  5. Celebrate Differences
    Value the differences; others are not like you are – so you will gain additional value from them. And they from being involved.
  6. Be Very Open-Minded
    How you handle outcomes will set the scene for future progress, so be very careful to listen, absorb and accept.
  7. Explore Opportunities
    The outputs from these exercises will be extraordinary. Every one is valuable and none should be dismissed. So find out more, it may create more than you think.
  8. Value Everyone
    It’s not just the ideas that are so valuable, your incredible people are too. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to celebrate how great they are, personally.
  9. Be Very Descriptive
    Take the chance to think big and encourage people to share their thoughts in glorious detail. Encourage fun through constructive anecdotes and metaphors.
  10. Live, Eat and Breathe It
    Use it as your guiding light. Use this organisational ‘highest goal’ to measure direction. Captivate people with your enthusiasm and decide every action by it.

The Coaching Business to Success Website  Visioning.

WELL ESTABLISHED WAYS TO MANAGE CHANGE – THE KOTTER MODEL – STEP FIVE:REMOVE OBSTACLES

In an earlier post we said there were a number of recognized approaches to structuring a change management programme and we introduced the Kotter model

The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organization or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. we have already dealt with Step One: Create Urgency, Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition, Step Three: Create a Vision for Change and Step Four: Communicate the Vision

Step Five: Remove Obstacles

If you follow the earlier steps and reach this point in the change process, you’ will have been talking about your vision and building up buy-in from all levels of the organization. Hopefully, your staff will want to get busy and be out there achieving the benefits that you’ve been promoting.

But is anyone resisting the change? And are there people (individuals or groups), processes or structures or even organisations that are getting in its way?

You need to put in place the structure for change, and continually check for barriers/blockers to it. Removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision, and it certainly helps them move the change move forward.

What you can do:

  • Identify, or hire, change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change.
  • Look at your organizational structure, job descriptions, and performance and compensation systems to ensure they’re in line with your vision.
  • Recognize and reward people for making change happen.
  • Identify people who are resisting the change, and help them see what’s needed.
  • Take action to quickly remove barriers (human or otherwise).

WELL ESTABLISHED WAYS TO MANAGE CHANGE – THE KOTTER MODEL – STEP FOUR COMMUNICATE THE VISION

In an earlier post we said there were a number of recognized approaches to structuring a change management programme and we introduced the Kotter model

The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organization or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. we have already dealt with Step One: Create Urgency, Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition and Step Three: Create a Vision for Change

Step Four: Communicate the Vision

What you do with your vision after you create it will determine your success. Your message will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communications within the company, so you need to communicate it frequently and powerfully, and embed it within everything that you do.

Don’t just call special meetings to communicate your vision. Instead, talk about it every chance you get. “Walk the talk”; be visible and let people see you as the embodiment of the change you intend to make.  Use the vision daily to make decisions and solve problems. When you keep it fresh on everyone’s minds, they’ll remember it and respond to it.

What you do is far more important – and believable – than what you say. Demonstrate the kind of behavior that you want from others.

What you can do:

  • Talk often about your change vision to make it real.
  • Be authentic – openly and honestly address peoples’ concerns and anxieties.
  • Apply your vision to all aspects of operations – from training to performance reviews. Tie everything back to the vision.
  • Lead by example.

WELL ESTABLISHED WAYS TO MANAGE CHANGE – THE KOTTER MODEL – STEP THREE CREATE A VISION FOR CHANGE

In an earlier post we said there were a number of recognized approaches to structuring a change management programme and we introduced the Kotter model

The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organization or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail. we have already dealt with Step One: Create Urgency and Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition

Step Three: Create a Vision for Change

When you first start thinking about change, there will probably be many great ideas and solutions floating around.  You need to link these concepts together into an overall vision so that people can grasp them easily and remember.

A clear vision can help everyone understand why you’re asking them to do something – even when it is uncomfortable. When people see for themselves what you’re trying to achieve, then the directives they’re given tend to make more better sense and they can commit to them.

What you can do:

  • Determine the values that are central to the change.
  • Develop a short summary (one or two sentences) that captures what you “see” as the future of your organization.
  • Try your vision out on a colleague – can they see the big picture?
  • Create your strategy so that it executes your vision.
  • Ensure that your change coalition can describe the vision in five minutes or less.
  • Practice your “vision speech” often.

WELL ESTABLISHED WAYS TO MANAGE CHANGE – THE KOTTER MODEL – STEP ONE CREATE A SENSE OF URGENCY

In an earlier post we said there were a number of recognized approaches to structuring a change management programme and we introduced the Kotter model

The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organization or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts will consider these steps in greater detail.

Step One: Create Urgency

For change to happen, it helps if the whole company really wants it. To move a change forward you need to develop a sense of urgency across the organisation around the need for change. This helps you to kick start the initial motivation to get things moving.

This isn’t simply a matter of showing people poor sales statistics or talking about increased competition. It requires an open, honest and convincing dialogue about what’s happening in the marketplace and with your competition and the risk these present. If many people start talking about the possible threat and the solution your change represents, the urgency can build and feed on itself.

What you can do:

  • Identify the potential threats your change is responding to o
  • Present an opportunity to respond to, Examine that opportunities that must be, should be or could be, exploited.
  • Start honest discussions, and give dynamic and convincing reasons for change to get people talking and thinking drive the buzz.
  • Request support and information from customers, outside stakeholders and industry people to strengthen your argument.

Kotter suggests that for change to be successful, 75% of a company’s management needs to “buy into” the change. In other words, you have to really work hard on Step One, and spend significant time and energy building urgency, before moving onto the next steps. Don’t panic and jump in too fast because you don’t want to risk further short-term losses – if you act without proper preparation, you could be in for a very bumpy ride.