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The 8 Step Process for Leading Change

Change… we’ve all encountered a change in some shape or form (good or bad!), especially at work as we’re encouraged to be ‘agile’, ‘lean’, efficient and effective. In many organisations change is the new norm and so is actively encouraged and embraced. Ensuring change is adopted and sustained is the challenge, and there are eight steps you can follow to help with the success of your change journey.

Kotter’s 8-step process for leading change:

Creating a climate for change

1. Increase Urgency

2. Build the guiding team

3. Get the right Vision

Engaging and enabling the whole organisation

4. Communicate for buy-in

5. Empowering action

6. Create short-term wins

Implementing and sustaining the change

7. Don’t let up

8. Make it stick

Let’s explore each step in more detail, outlining what you should do as well as what you should try to avoid…

1. Increase Urgency

DO

Examine market and competitive realities for potential crises and/or untapped opportunities.

* Convince at least 75% of your managers that the status quo is more dangerous than the unknown.

AVOID

* Underestimating the difficulty of driving people from their comfort zones.

* Becoming paralysed by risks.

2. Build the guiding team

DO

* Assemble a group of change agents with shared commitment and enough power to lead the change effort.

* Encourage the group to work as a team outside the normal hierarchy.

AVOID

* People with no prior experience of teamwork at the top.

* Relegating team leadership to HR, or elsewhere rather than a senior line manager.

3. Get the right Vision

DO

* Create a vision to direct the change effort.

* Develop strategies for realising this vision.

AVOID

* Presenting a vision that’s too complicated or vague.

Engaging and enabling the whole organisation

4. Communicate for buy-in

DO

* Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies for achieving it.

* Teach new behaviours by the examples given by the guiding coalition.

AVOID

* Under communicating the vision.

* Behaving in ways that oppose the vision.

5. Empowering action

DO

* Remove or change systems or structures undermining the vision.

* Encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions.

AVOID

* Failing to remove powerful individuals who resist the change effort.

6. Create short-term wins

DO

* Define and engineer visible performance improvements.

* Recognise and rewards employees contributing to those improvements.

AVOID

* Leaving short-term successes to chance.

* Failing to score successes soon enough.

Implementing and sustaining the change

7. Don’t let up

DO

* Use increased credibility from early wins to change systems, structures and policies undermining the vision.

* Hire, promote and develop employees who can implement the vision.

* Reinvigorate the change process with new projects and change agents.

AVOID

* Declaring victory too soon – with the first performance improvements.

* Allowing resistors to convince the ‘troops’ that the war has been won.

8. Make it stick

DO

* Articulate connections between new behaviours and corporate success.

* Create leadership development and succession plans consistent with the new approach.

AVOID

* Not creating new social norms and shared values consistent with change.

* Promoting people into leadership positions who don’t personify the new approach.

*John P.Kotter is internationally known and widely regarded as the foremost speaker on the topics of Leading Change. He is the premier voice on how the best organisations actually achieve successful transformations, having identified and extracted the success factors into a methodology, the 8-Step Process for Leading Change.

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