I facilitated an inhouse change management workshop for a law firm recently. We looked at change management through the lens of both individual and organisational change. And we used two of their planned change projects to consider the issues and to test out and apply the various techniques. At the end of the session, they had developed two project plans for implementation. And here are 20 insights on change management processes and communication.
Change management process
We reviewed several change frameworks (including Kotter’s eight stage model from “Our iceberg is melting” and Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s 10 stage model). And the delegates developed two tailor-made frameworks for future use in their planned change management projects. We also observed that a lot of change was achieved during Covid as learning anxiety was outweighed by survival anxiety and everyone was in the same boat so there was persuasive “social proof” to change.
Key points of interest included:
- Various research studies show that the majority of change projects fail (around 75%) and that it often takes up to six attempts to achieve successful change
- Undertake the necessary research and discovery before you start
- Prepare a clear vision for what you want to achieve – and the benefits for the organisation, teams and individuals. This should integrate within your firm’s purpose, vision, values and strategy. Alignment with other changes is important.
- Set measurable goals to monitor progress
- Consider the change process from the individual’s (emotional) and organisation’s (rational) perspectives and consider the behaviour changes required
- Consider the changes required in related processes and policies (e.g. reward and recognition)
- Plan the change process carefully – including stakeholder communication at every stage
- Review the change process and progress regularly – there will always be unknown unknowns – and adapt as necessary
Some of the change management processes and frameworks
Change management basics – personal and organisational change (kimtasso.com) Includes John Kotter’s 8 stage model and a 10 stage model from Rosabeth Moss Kantor
change management (kimtasso.com) Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Standard for Change Management
Change management – Change Catalyst book review by Kim Tasso The change catalyst – secrets to successful and sustainable business change” by Campbell MacPherson
Change management book – Switch (Chip & Dan Heath) (kimtasso.com) Switch: How to change things when change is hard by Chip and Dan Heath
change management and organisational change (kimtasso.com) Making sense of change management: A complete guide to the models, tools and techniques of organisational change by Esther Cameron and Mike Green
Classic management book reviews – The McKinsey way, Good to great (kimtasso.com) The Sunday Times How to manage organisational change By D E Hussey and The McKinsey Way: Using the techniques of the world’s top strategic consultants to help you and your business By Ethan M. Rasiel
Resistance is inevitable. But it can be minimised where the firm’s culture supports strong employee engagement through the right sort of communication.
We considered different ways of creating a dialogue – before, during and after the planned change. Early involvement increases buy in, anticipates possible objections and barriers, increases stakeholder engagement and promotes early adoption.
We also examined some of the communication barriers – and touched on cognitive overload, decision fatigue and change saturation.
Key points of interest included:
- Conduct stakeholder analysis, mapping and segmentation Ten top takeaways on stakeholder engagement and buy in (kimtasso.com)
- Flex your leadership style to encourage collaboration- shift from push to pull communications
- Prepare for each stage in the change cycle change process – Emotions when reacting to change (kimtasso.com) and anticipate questions, objections and barriers. It helps if you are specific about what you want people to do at each step – and start small rather than overwhelming them with too much information at the outset
- Be empathic with those who will and are undergoing the change (An introduction to emotional intelligence (EQ) and empathy (Video) (kimtasso.com))
- Listen carefully to what people say – and validate their emotions and views. Some firms have regular surveys of their employees and you may be able to piggyback on those for your change project
- Adapt your approach to different personalities and their motivations
- Harness the sleeper effect (where they think it is their idea)
- Identify sponsors, champions, influencers and ambassadors – and brief team leaders so that communications cascade effectively
- Use storyboarding and storytelling (Video – The art of storytelling – Kim Tasso explains and demonstrates) to explain the change journey
- Focus on the benefits and outcomes (rather than just the process)
- Incorporate other persuasion (Influence – Cialdini’s six principles of the psychology of persuasion (kimtasso.com) and Book review – Persuasion: The art of influencing people by James Borg (kimtasso.com) and nudge techniques (Book review: Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth (kimtasso.com))
- Celebrate success and provide regular feedback (we looked at ways to create psychological safety and an appreciative environment)
Some further information on change communications:
There are numerous short videos on topics related to change management at Kim Tasso – YouTube