Four Basic Conditions That Will Improve the Success Rate of Change

Conventional change management suggests addressing these behavioral and attitudinal changes by putting in place four basic conditions:
a) a compelling story,
b) role modeling,
c) reinforcement systems, and
d) the skills required for change.

So why aren't the statistics better? Where do you start?

Let's look at these four conditions to see what you can do to increase the rate of success.

a) A compelling story. Usually when we make changes, especially large-scale changes, there are compelling reasons. These reasons could be because of competition, to comply with some law or regulation, to increase efficiency and reduce costs, to improve customer service etc. All of the reasons you might have are likely critical to improve the short and long-term success of the business. The thing is, most employees need more than that to support and embrace the changes. They want to know what is in it for them (WIIFT)! If they go through the change, endure the stress and the impact on their workload or future they want to know what they will get out of it.

So, the question to ask when you put your compelling story together is 'what's in it for employees?' Perhaps it's simplification, less rework, better career prospects, learning new skills, better data, more flexibility, smoother interface with customers, etc. Whatever it is, it has to be something that interests them and even compels them to want to change.

b) Role Modeling. This is critical, so much of what employees believe to be true about leadership, change, expectations etc. comes from what the leader says and does, or what is not said or done. If words and actions are not congruent then we don't have credibility. You need to demonstrate the behaviors you want, work with the new systems and processes, make decisions consistent with the change / future, continually link the change to the vision (and WIIFT).

c) Reinforcement systems. Often when there is large-scale change the focus is on the new system, the new process, the new structure etc. If you want the change to stick though it's import to review the reinforcement systems. Do role descriptions need to change? Measures and KPI's for performance reviews? Hiring and orientation processes? The way people are paid? Do you need to put in place new awards or other recognition programs to support the change (or remove ones that support the 'old' way)? How about workflows or even policies and procedures? Believe it or not getting these reinforcements systems up to date and supporting the changes will go a long way to creating lasting change.

d) Skills required for change. There is nothing more frustrating for an employee or that increases resistance to change than not being enabled to support the change. Depending on the type of changes made you might need to do a skills gap analysis and then train people on the new skills and capabilities needed to perform and succeed. Education on new systems, the impact and what will change for each individual will be needed. You might even need to help people understand how they can embrace and even lead change going forward.

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