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 – Announcing your change!

Transactional Model of Communication

For a significant organizational change, you should develop a communications plan.

It should cover;

  • What you wish to accomplish in communicating the change,
  • Your audience – how they are feeling, what they are expecting and how are they likely to react through the process,
  • Your key messages, strategy and tactics,
  • When you are going to communicate – your activity schedule,
  • How you will measure the results – how will you know that your message is getting across!

You can find guidance on preparing your plan at this link.

Prepare well for the announcement.  Be aware of your own feelings about the change. If you feel anxious take a little time out beforehand to relax – there is a simple breathing technique to help you at this link.

When you can, help your staff prepare for bad news.  But combine all of this with being scrupulously fair.  They will know if you play the favourites game or take the opportunity to pay off old scores when you are laying people off or reducing hours.  You will lose good will and that special contribution you need from those who stay.

In making your announcement, be as honest as you can and above all be fair.

Tell them the real position if you can, but also tell them what you are doing about it.  Tell them why the change is happening and what has led up to this point. Be as honest as you can about the risks but don’t threaten your organization with your honesty – it’s a fine judgment call.  Be careful of your language, don’t mislead them but limit your use of negative and emotive words.

You may not have all the answers at the beginning of the change.  Be honest about the gaps but be very clear about how you will go about filling them

Make sure they understand that you will keep them informed.

If they have a role, explain that role to them.  Involve them as much as you can in the change. How can they contribute?

Show confidence in their ability to get out of their comfort zone and do what has not been done before!  Challenge them to achieve something remarkable but don’t be unrealistic!

Make sure they leave the room knowing how they can ask questions after the event.

If you have a management team forearm them with as much briefing material as you can and make sure there is access to you for further information

Above all show how you are going to lead and support them through this change.  You are all in it together!

I would welcome your thoughts and hearing about your experiences.  I am very happy to answer your questions and advise you if I can.

  • Leading Change – bad advice and frightening people! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • LeaderBrief Q&A: Core Leadership Skills (linked2leadership.com)


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 – 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

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

         

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.

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

Turn, turn, turn! Knowing when to leave

“Turn! Turn! Turn! To Everything There Is a Season (Book of Ecclesiastes via Pete Seeger and the Byrds)

All things change!

We all have special moments when we are truly happy. So happy in fact, that we want that moment to last forever.  We all have other moments that are so dark that time seems to stop – but it doesn’t.

One of the great lessons we learn is that time moves on and everything changes.

This is a true at work as much as in our private life.

We move into a new role or start a new project full of a mixture of excitement and trepidation.  We need to learn a new team as much as the technical elements of the work and the corporate culture.

We go through an adventure, reading the corporate map – which parts we can afford not to visit for a while and what others need urgent attention?

Just at the point when we think we know how it works we discover something staggering that we can’t afford to ignore.

The challenge is exciting.  There is work to do and people to lead who need our special skills and our particular vision.

Time moves on and the organization becomes our own!  But there are still challenges out there, new problems to solve and new horizons to look for.

Time moves on again.  We get to a point when we no longer need to look at the map, or even open our eyes, to know how to get where we want on that particular turf.

Nothing surprises us anymore and for us the task is complete.

What we are bringing now doesn’t have the same energy and excitement about it. We know the organization under our leadership is on the right track but we would rather think about things outside than inside it!

We feel we have stopped learning and we no longer inspire!

It is time to move on.  We know the organization needs something better and so do we!

So we plan our exit carefully as we would any project – we still care for this organization and its people.  We develop an exit strategy and we manage it.

We do all we can to help them find a  successor while we explore that opportunity that gave us such a buzz when we discussed it. We tie up the loose ends and move on.

We have done our best for the organization and ourselves.

Where as if you ignore the signs and hang around – oh dear!

You’ve seen them haven’t you – the Wednesday golf is far more important than the corporate vision!

Do you want to join them?

Then be prepared to turn, turn, turn and know when it is time to leave!

Leadership in the matrix – how complex would you like your spiders' web to be?

A closeup view of the Skylab space station tak...

Spiders’ webs were first spun in low earth orbit in 1973 aboard Skylab.

Two female spiders called Arabella and Anita were part of an experiment on the Skylab 3 mission. The aim of the experiment was to test whether the two spiders would spin webs in space; they did!

At the time the spiders were spinning their webs, we were beginning to talk about matrix organizations and how to make them successful.

The matrix approach grew up alongside the emergence of project management in the early high-tech industries including NASA.  As has been said many times before; the matrix approach is relatively easy to describe but can be challenging in the extreme to manage.

The matrix organization evolved when horizontal relationships, say between subject matter experts, became as important as traditional, vertical reporting lines. Traditional hierarchies were no longer the most efficient way to deliver business.  So the lattice, web-like matrix structure emerged.

This was usually with a functional “line manager” responsible for professional development, reward etc and, say, a project manager responsible for the services to be delivered for a fixed period or for a piece of work.

Now the matrix can apply across cultural and country boundaries as well as across functions.

But, when resources are short and all are focusing on achieving more with less, deciding priorities in the matrix can be difficult.

To succeed a matrix requires absolute clarity from its leaders about the outcomes required.   Clear direction – not the day-to-day detail!  This should be direction that allows competing priorities further down the organization to be resolved in the interests of the organization as a whole.

Senior leaders need to sponsor the matrix structure actively and  make sure that it continues to meet the needs of the organization.  They need to understand how cultural barriers can get in the way of the success and how people can work to overcome them.

Also they should ensure that  governance needs are met despite the matrix structure.  There has to be absolute clarity about who, at the end of the day, is accountable for what!  If there has to dual accountability, then the basis for this needs to be negotiated before other commitments are made.

Communication and informal networks will be critical and leaders can stimulate this by creating a climate of trust and openness.  A matrix will not thrive alongside a culture of blame!

To give their best, people have to understand why a matrix organization exists and what is in it for them.  They should have confidence in their leaders if they are to live with the in-built ambiguity; as well as responsibility and accountability often without authority.

Leaders will want to ensure there is real matrix management capability within the organization so that flexibility and responsiveness are enhanced and barriers are broken down.  Without this, a matrix structure can lead to delay, increased cost and lower job satisfaction.

Make sure you,  as the leader, and your people have the real capability to make your matrix structure work.

I’ve worked with organizations that made their matrix structure work for them and helped them stay at the front of their sector.  I’ve worked with others torn apart by internal strife and without clear leadership.  I would love to hear what your experience has been.

  • Types of Organizational Charts (brighthub.com)
  • Bertrand Duperrin: Social Collaboration? (sfh.naasat.in)
  • How to Master “Matrix Boss Madness” (psychologytoday.com)


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 atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439