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Principles for Leading Change and Transition Management – Part B

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change_thoughts by Michele McDonough

In December 2015 I provided Part A, an article on the five principles of leading change and transition management. At the time I referenced the importance of people and culture in your strategic
planning efforts. As an important business impact zone it is important that we understand the definition of people and culture as outlined in the original blog post and my book, S.E.T. for Success: a roadmap to transform your business.

It should be well accepted that people and culture will create itself in the absence of strong, effective and good leadership. It is the natural course of things as social interaction and organization will take an organic course with positive or negative impact. This will occur unless business leadership is willing to embrace structured approaches and people engagement to create transition management success.

Here is the Part B – the additional five ideas to help you in your strategic planning, leading change and transition management needs.

  1. A redesigned organization chart will not help you with your new direction. People don’t suddenly start reporting to new people and collocating because of some mandate. So don’t make the assumption that they will. It is far more important to insure that daily behaviors reflect the change requirements. This is a people and culture component where you need to define the critical behaviors that are needed. Put those behaviors at the forefront and model them. That is what good leaders do.
  2. The leaders and managers with decision making powers (authority) need to be engaged or nothing will happen. That is the formal leadership. More importantly tap into the informal leaders, the subject matter experts who have established trust within the organization. Often they are respected and they have influence in a way that the official leadership team does not. Engage them early and ensure they carry the torch of change.
  3. Always assess and adapt. That should be a mantra for change and transition initiatives. Yet business leaders will fail to do this and celebrate successes too early. A simple approach to identifying what is working and what is not working will go a long way. This means looking at the numbers and getting feedback from people.
  4. People always do things the old way. This is a normal part of the human condition. We are creatures of habit and it takes time to change one’s behavior. Look at your formal and informal channels to creating transition. Often the informal is buried in the cultural belief. Things like ‘get it done no matter what’ might need to be replaced with ‘if it is not our best then don’t do it’. You need to ensure that the formal needs and the informal reality aligns appropriately. That you create a culture that gets it and are willing to do what is necessary to get it right.
  5. Structure is important for change to take hold. This often means connecting with the operational tools that are presently in place and maybe even creating new ones. Things like the performance management system, training programs, town hall meetings, status updates, motivational rewards that make sense and other options should be designed and formally introduced. Support should be beyond the standard ways of doing things to create change and transition. Is there a way that you can embed structured engagement into your organization that is formal and can support the direction the organization must go in?

Leading change and transition is a challenge under normal circumstances. Introduce a strategic, tactical and operations planning event, key business decisions or a significant business game changer from your external or internal world and you have a heck of a road to travel. Ultimately it means you must include people and culture of the organization. Sounds like a no-brainer, right! Truth, it’s not easy. The key is you must consider organizational structure and people engagement to create transitional success.

I hope these thoughts on the principles for leading change and transition management, part A and B, helped.

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