Leading Change – dealing with fears and facing up to resistance

Recently I’ve been writing about John Kotter’s eight stage process for leading and managing change.  Stage 5 is about empowering action, over coming resistance and getting rid of obstacles to change.

This is where your investment in Stages 1 to 4, begins to pay dividends.

Kotter himself states that when Stages 1 to 4 are skipped, resistance is inevitable and this can destroy your change.

People resist change because they fear loss.  They believe they are defending something they value which feels threatened.   This can include loss of security, power, resources and overall loss of control.  Most of us fear the unknown.

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

But there may still be some resisting the change!  There may be people (individuals or groups), processes, structures and even organizations that are getting in the way?

You not only need to put in place the structure for change, but check continually for barriers and 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.

To remove obstacles you should

  • 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 quickly to remove barriers (human or otherwise).

To remove barriers of the human kind

  • Help them understand the logic behind the change.
  • Give them an opportunity to contribute – to help design and implement the change (e.g., ideas, task forces, committees).
  • Provide facilitation & coaching to help them adjust to the change.
  • Offer incentives to those who continue to resist change.

If all else fails, and this change is critical to the organization, use authority to get people to accept the change or to move sideways and, possibly, out.

This can be one of the most challenging stages for the Change Leader but – as I’ve written here many times before – no one told you change was going to be easy!

A Kotter Reading List for you;

  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there! (wisewolftalking.com)


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there!

shining light 2

I’ve written a lot here about the Kotter Model for leading change.  Recently I’ve been working my way through his various stages yet again because they always provide something new to think about. I’ve also written a lot about communication. Stage four of the Kotter process is about communicating your vision.

What you do with your vision after you create it and how you communicate it, will determine whether your change works, or not.

Your message is likely to have a lot of competition. It will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communications within the company. As well as that, if your change is really significant you can expect the rumour mill to go to work spreading bad news. So you need to communicate your vision frequently and powerfully. You and your guiding team need to walk the talk and embed message in everything that you do.

Don’t just call special meetings to communicate your vision. Instead, talk about it every chance you get. The guiding team need to be visible and let people see you as the embodiment of the change you intend to make.

The top team should be using the vision daily to make decisions and solve problems. And so should all those who are actively engaged. Keep it fresh and on everyone’s minds,  then they will begin to remember it and respond to it.

What you do is far more important – and believable – than what you say.

Make sure the whole guiding team demonstrates the kind of behaviour that you want from others.

Make sure you

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

A Kotter Reading List for you;

  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning (wisewolftalking.com)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – do you have a great vision?

A great vision needs to be about the future but it will fail if it is not firmly rooted in the present. You may wish to change a group but you can’t ignore its history, culture and organization.  Most of all you need to make sure there is a connection to its values.

This is where those who are new to the organization sometimes come adrift when leading and managing change.  Even if you are trying to move existing values on, you cannot totally ignore them in your vision for the future.  Somehow in your change, those in the existing organization need to feel that their present values are being honoured.

Your vision needs to have roots but it needs to be future focussed and challenging – it needs to reflect and set high standards, and high ideals.  Make your vision something that people will want to live up to.  That means it will keep chins high when you hit the difficult patches!

Your vision should inspire – you want it to raise enthusiasm and commitment. It is much more likely to do that if it touches the needs and aspirations of all those who have a stake in it.  This includes not only those inside the organization but also clients, customers, users and, if possible, your suppliers.

Make sure your vision can be understood – communicate it well.  Make it clear and unambiguous! Paint pictures when you talk about it that people can take away and imagine for themselves.  Make this a future they can see in their minds and want to be a part of.

Make your vision unique and distinctive – not to be confused with where we said we were going five years ago.  This must be special.

Above all make your vision ambitious!  Make sure that people can see that real progress will have been made when your vision is achieved.  This should be a vision that expands everyone’s horizons.

So to sum up your vision needs to be

  1. Appropriate to your history, culture and values
  2. Challenging with high standards and high ideals
  3. Inspirational
  4. Aspirational – reflecting the aspirations of all those with an interest
  5. Understandable
  6. Distinctive
  7. Ambitious

I’d love to hear you experience of working with visions – what has worked for you and what has not worked?

  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition (wisewolftalking.com)


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – deciding who leads!

Challenge kart

Last week I wrote about putting a group together to lead your change – creating a guiding coalition (Kotter Stage 3).

This group needs to include both managers and leaders and they will work together as a team.  The managers will keep the process under control while the leaders will drive the change.

A group with good managers but poor leaders is likely to produce plans but have no compelling vision. It will not communicate the need for change well enough for it to become meaningful –  it will control rather than empower people.

While a group that has all leaders and no managers is unlikely to be organized enough to create the short-term wins necessary to keep others on board for the long-haul – it will not sustain a change initiative.

You need a group that can convince people that change is necessary in the short term.  Then keep them actively engaged through-out the process, so that you can achieve the long-term goal.

Has your organization has been successful in the recent past?  Then if you look hard enough, you will probably find effective change leaders and managers throughout your organization!  You just have to find them.  They don’t necessarily follow the traditional company hierarchy.

If the organization has not been successful for a long time then you have a challenge.  You will need to seek out the good, work with the less good and, if possible, make sure the organization imports some capable fresh blood and embeds and empowers the individuals quickly.  This change will require a very experienced change facilitator fully backed by the top team

To lead and manage  change, you need to bring together a group whose power comes from a variety of sources including; job title, status, expertise, political importance and, just sometimes, sheer force of personality, in other words, charisma!

How to put a group together in four (not always easy) steps:

  • Go out and find the true leaders and strong managers in your organization.
  • Ask for an emotional commitment from these key people – explain to them why you need the change..
  • Work on team building within your change coalition.
  • Check your team for weak areas  and ensure that you have a good mix of people from different departments and different levels within your company.

I would welcome your thoughts on this and, of course,  I am very happy to answer your questions

Related articles

  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Bewildered by the change you have to make – here is help!(wisewolftalking.com)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition

President George W. Bush, left center, joins f...

I’ve written quite a bit here about the Kotter approach to change.  In a recent a recent post, I dealt with his Stage One and creating a sense of urgency.  This post deals with Stage Two – forming a powerful coalition to lead and manage the change.

After 30 years of research Dr John Kotter believes that most major change initiatives fail mainly because organizations don’t commit to seeing the change through and don’t take a holistic approach throughout.   He has demonstrated that his 8 step process provides a way of delivering and embedding large scale organizational change.

His method elaborates and enlarges upon the simple Freeze Phase, three stage approach – square, blob, star.  But the underlying principles are the same.

In a world requiring ultimate flexibility an organization’s ability to deal successfully with change is a key ingredient in its overall success.

Step Two – Creating a Powerful Coalition

No one person, however competent, is capable single handedly of developing the right vision, communicating it to vast numbers of people, eliminating all of the obstacles, generating short term wins, leading and managing dozens of change projects and anchoring new approaches deep in an organization’s culture.

Putting together the right people to lead and manage  the change initiative is critical to its success.   It needs visible support from key people through out your organization.  You must find the right people, instill in them a significant level of trust and develop a shared objective.

You need people who have the right credibility within the organization.  Otherwise things will go limp and the change will simply go to pieces and fritter away leaving the organization weaker than it was before.

You need a  team of leaders and managers that can act in concert and make productive decisions that will be taken seriously by all!  The managers will keep the process under control while the leaders drive the change..

An effective guiding coalition should have

  • Position Power:  Enough key players on board so that those left out cannot block progress.
  • Expertise:  All relevant points of view should be represented so that informed and intelligent decisions can be made.
  • Credibility:  The group should be seen and respected by all so that the group’s pronouncements will be taken seriously by others.
  • Leadership:  The group should have enough proven leaders able to drive the change process.

The team needs to develop trust in one another and a shared goal so that they can make the needed change happen, despite all of the forces of inertia and resistance they find.

My next post will deal with how you choose the group.  But in the mean time I would welcome your thoughts.

Wendy Smith is a personal coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme.  Wendy is author of “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters” as well as two novels and a number of articles on management and well-being. Her latest publication is a little eBook; “How to Get on With the Boss.”  You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Bewildered by the change you have to make – here is help! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials (theascdoctor.com)

Leading Change – bad advice and frightening people!

October 4: Optical Boundaries: An Evening of 1...

I wanted to take my earlier post on creating urgency further today and discuss how you can avoid creating panic.  So I started to do some research.

On what is a very “well respected” website that probably should be nameless,  I came across the following headline

“Let it rip: announcing change all at once may hurt in the short term, but it gets the pain over with quickly and then employees can move on!”

Further on in the same article I came across the following,  from a communications’ consultancy in response to the question of why change announcements are often badly received.

“They don’t take change well because when it comes to communicating changes to employees, every company does it badly.”

You could say they would say that wouldn’t they.  But I regard it as a dangerous statement and the degree of naivety around both these pieces of advice is sad to behold!

Yes, people do need the truth about change and as much information as you can give them about how it is going to affect them. You need to tell them what you know and what you don’t know and how you are going to bridge the gap.

But you don’t let rip!  That way lies panic!

Information needs to be given in a measured and honest way.

However well you do it, if it is a significant change, I am afraid there is likely to be pain.  And, no, it won’t be over quickly because you “let rip”!  But being honest and conveying the message (and your vision) well, can lessen the pain and avoid panic.

All kinds of feelings may emerge when people are faced with change.  How the message is conveyed is only part of the picture.

Nor is it true that every company does it badly but unfortunately many don’t do it well.

So on Friday, I’ll be writing here about how to give your own people bad news and how to control your own feelings in the process.   I want you to be able to do your best to help them!

In the meantime, I’d welcome your thoughts and observations.

Related articles

  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • Managing Change! Is it painful? You bet it is! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Your Sense of Urgency (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
  • Business Change: A Sense of Urgency (martinwebster.eu)

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)786768143

Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!

Dont Panic
  

I’ve written quite a bit here about the Kotter approach to change.

After 30 years of research Dr John Kotter believes that most major change initiatives fail mainly because organizations don’t commit to seeing the change through and don’t take a holistic approach throughout.   He has demonstrated that his 8 step process provides a way of delivering and embedding large scale organizational change.

His method elaborates and enlarges upon the simple Freeze Phase, three stage approach – square, blob, star.  But the underlying principles are the same.

In a world requiring ultimate flexibility an organization’s ability to deal successfully with change is a key ingredient in its overall success.

The first stage in the Kotter approach is to create a sense of urgency but this is often the hardest part of a change to accomplish.

To move a change forward you need to develop and maintain a sense of urgency across the organization. This helps you to kick start the initial motivation to get things moving but also to sustain the energy throughout the change.  Urgency needs to be created and recreated throughout the whole change process.

Moving to this state, while maintaining performance, isn’t easy. And leaders need to differentiate between complacency, panic (what Kotter calls “false urgency”) and the sustainable and more positive state of true urgency

  • Complacency can be the halo effect that follows earlier success.  This leads to a glow of self satisfaction that means potential risks and changes in the world outside the organization are not seen. It can lead to sluggishness or arrogance.  The organization is inward facing and doesn’t study emerging markets, technology and competitors; this is part of the reason why horizon scanning by the leadership team can be so important.  Yes, you may be good, but are you good enough for the changing world and the changing marketplace.
  • Panic (False Urgency) often results when the message about the required change is not well handled.  Instead of inspiring confidence in the team that they can meet the challenge of change, the boss simply frightens them.   Instead of a positive and well managed response, what results is a lot of frenetic activity.  People rush from meeting to meeting without achieving anything significant but the activity in itself can convince the leader that change is happening.  The result can be that people become angry, upset and/or stressed out.  The energy required to complete and embed the change is simply drained away.
  • True urgency according to dictionary means “of pressing importance”! It means taking action now on critical issues and achieving real outcomes.  It is not about processing for processing’s sake.  True urgency engenders a balanced response – seeing the need for change without a sense of panic and impending doom.

If change is to be accomplished successfully then people need to be focused and have a sense that they are in control.  They need to see that there are real opportunities alongside the threat. This will allow them to be alert and proactive – able to act on their own initiative in taking the change forward. With a team that is confident in its leader and has a true sense of urgency, change can be sustained.  It is far less stressful.

Related articles

  • Managing Change! Is it painful? You bet it is! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Your Sense of Urgency (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
  • Business Change: A Sense of Urgency (martinwebster.eu)


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way and a Present from Wisewolf

The three stages of change identified by psychologist Kurt Lewin are the basis of most change management approaches today.

They are very easy to understand – unfreeze, transition, re-freeze!

There are simple techniques you can use at each stage to move people through and to complete your change successfully.

Unfreeze: People like to feel safe and in control.  Their sense of identity is tied into their present environment; so, they like to stay in their comfort zone! Talking about the future is rarely enough to get them to change.

But there are simple techniques you can use to get them to “thaw” and to make them ready for change.

Transition For Lewin change is a journey.  This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side.

It is very easy to get caught up in this middle stage. Transition takes time and needs leadership and support! Sometimes transition can also be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change.

Techniques used by experienced change managers move people through transition to the new destination

Refreeze At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to ‘refreeze’, putting down roots again and establishing a new place of stability – embedding new processes and developing a new culture

Would you like to find out more about this simple approach and the simple techniques you can use to make your change successful!

If you sign up to receive Wisewolf Talking direct by email, you will receive a free copy of my simple guide to leading change.

You will find the sign up form at the top of the column on the right.

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

The three stages of change identified by psychologist Kurt Lewin are the basis of Leading Change The Simple Waymost change management approaches today. Lewin’s three stages are about leading change the simple way.

They are very easy to understand – unfreeze, transition, re-freeze!

There are simple techniques you can use at each stage to move people through and to complete your change successfully.

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

Unfreeze: People like to feel safe and in control.  Their sense of identity is tied into their present environment; so, they like to stay in their comfort zone! Talking about the future is rarely enough to get them to change.

But there are simple techniques you can use to get them to “thaw” and to make them ready for change.

Transition For Lewin change is a journey.  This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side.

It is very easy to get caught up in this middle stage. Transition takes time and needs leadership and support! Sometimes transition can also be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change.

Techniques used by experienced change managers move people through transition to the new destination

Refreeze At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to ‘refreeze’, putting down roots again and establishing a new place of stability – embedding new processes and developing a new culture.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Teddy Bears, Comfort Zones and Big Adventures

There is a wonderful illustration and I think it is in Winnie-the-Pooh!  It shows Christopher Robin disappearing off on another adventure hand in paw with his wonderful teddy bear!

Teddy bears are marvelous companions when you are off on a great adventure!

For children, alongside the other positive benefits of having security objects like teddy bears, is that they can help them adapt to new situations.  The stress of something new is eased by having something familiar and comforting!

For some adults too soft toys and comfort blankets help them deal with stress! Holding on to your cuddly toy can help you be brave enough to venture outside your comfort zone.

Comfort zones are the living, work and social environments that we have built for ourselves and become accustomed to. They can determine the type of friends we make, the people we associate with and the life style we accept or reject.

But staying in your comfort zone can mean that your life has a fence around it! Your life can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and you never venture out to grow and change.

To change to a different life style, establishing a business or succeeding at a challenging project,  you need to move out of your comfort  zone and into the unfamiliar.

If you want to change a group, you need to persuade them to move with you out their comfort zones into the great big and frightening world.  And not everyone will have their own Winnie-the-Pooh at home as a special friend to help them feel confident moving passed the gate. It can feel very risky!

So you, as the leader, have a lot of work to do.

You will need to make clear why your group cannot stay where they are!  They can no longer live within their existing comfort zone.

It is up to you to paint a picture of the future so strong they begin to imagine it for themselves.  You need to share a vision so meaningful, it is worth them venturing with you into the dark.

And you need to establish a bond of trust so strong that they can take the risk and move forward.

I would love to hear about your adventures out in that big, wide world.

As for me I lost my treasured teddy bear some years ago.  But luckily by then, just as good bears should,  he had taught me all he knew about managing without him!

  •  Thoughts on visioning and 10 ways to be better at it
  • Kotter Step Four Communicate the Vision
  • Managing Change! Is it painful? You bet it is!


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439