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10 Tips for Implementing Change Effectively

"People don't resist change. They resist being changed." ~ Peter Senge

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." ~ Maya Angelou

"Change before you have to." ~ Jack Welch

Change is the only constant. So getting it right is important, especially as rumour has it that the majority of change initiatives fail. These tips will help.

  1. Understand why you want or need to change. If you don't, no-one else will... Effective communication is one of the key factors in the successful implementation of change.
  2. Get the right people in place to lead the change. What skills do you need? What attitudes are you looking for? And who has them? Use a tool like Belbin team roles to help you identify who has the attributes you are looking for.
  3. Devise the vision and strategy - what needs to be done and when. If you are sponsoring or leading change it's hard to remember that no-one else has all the knowledge that you do. So using a simple method of identifying what needs to happen when and updating it regularly allows others to understand the impact on them.
  4. Explain the reasons for the change to your people. Give people the opportunity to ask questions and to challenge what is happening - throughout the process. This helps their understanding of why things need to change. The more open the process, the more turst will be built as the project proceeds.
  5. Encourage everyone to get involved in how the change is implemented. They will help you identify the real impact where it matters most - at the front line. Find out which other organisations have implemented that type of change before and give your people the opportunity to visit or see for themselves what pitfalls have been encountered and how things have changed for the better.
  6. Get rid of obstacles that stand in the way of achieving your vision. For example, get rid of old systems and procedures that no longer serve a purpose. Remember that people will hang on to the familiar and do what they've always done if they have the opportunity to! This will disempower the saboteurs - people who stand in the way of progress.
  7. Identify some short term wins - nothing motivates like success! Changes, like providing new PCs before the implementation of a new IT system, can help people see some benefits from the change, and at an early stage.
  8. Encourage risk taking, new ideas, activities and actions. Involving people along the way helps them understand what's in it for them. Remember that there are lots of examples from history of failures before a great success, so encouragement from you could lead to more benefits than you ever expected.
  9. Recognise and reward the people who made the wins possible. Differentiate between those who are championing the change and those who aren't. You want to encourage the heroes rather than the saboteurs. And those who are not either - the sheep! - who follow those with the loudest voices.
  10. Keep asking questions to check out the progress you are making. Talk often to people involved in the project - and not just those who are accountable for the delivery of the project. By listening to anyone affected by the project you will be demonstrating that you are interested in people's views and discover what is really happening.

Follow these tips and watch your change project succeed. You will also find valuable information about implementing change effectively in William Bridges' book - Managing Transitions. And Torben Rick's website is a mine of information - and infographics - on making change work.

What's your experience of successful change?


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