10 tips to manage change

Workshop ‘How to turn change agents into change communities’

On December 6 we welcomed more than 20 participants to our breakfast workshop on Change Management. However diverse their backgrounds may be, they share one major challenge in their organization: when there are a lot of people involved, how do you ensure that change sticks? And how do you tackle the soft side of change? Our colleagues Tineke and Anneleen, along with guest speaker Luc Galoppin, took the participants on a step-by-step journey to climb MountK.

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Embarking on a change journey has much in common with climbing a mountain: you have to prepare the entire team for the journey, work out a clear plan beforehand, be aware of individual strengths and weaknesses, and know how to respond immediately when something happens along the way.

Major hiccup

“A lot of organizations struggle with change projects,” says Anneleen. Having successfully rolled out change projects in the area of supply chain & operations in companies like Bridgestone – which recently won us the Supply Chain Award – she pinpoints the major hiccup. “The hard stuff, like tools and templates, that’s usually plain sailing for a company. But the intangible, the human part is the hardest thing to manage. That’s why we centered this workshop on the soft skills that are necessary to bring about change.”

10 takeaways

Looking back on the challenges that were raised by the participants and the insights they jotted down during the workshop, here are the 10 takeaways we absolutely want to share with you. Tineke explains and comments.

  1. Make the intangible tangible: S = Q x A x P

“People are often reluctant to change because they’ve ‘been there, done that’. They don’t have the time or the resources, etc. To manage this type of feedback, you can use the formula:

Success = Quality x Acceptance x People

Don’t just focus on process or tool improvements. Make sure the new processes are accepted by the right people, i.e. your change organization. Go for their buy-in.”

  1. Formally involve your change agents

“It’s not enough to designate your change agents. Their roles and responsibilities should be formalized as well. They need to be made accountable: the change project should be included in their targets oryou can have them sign a document that stipulates what is expected from them. This may sound odd, but we know from experience it’s crucial to achieve sustainable change from within.”

  1. Put together a well-balanced team

“Make sure your project team is versatile and, at the same time, complementary. Look for a good mix of leaders, communicators and analyzers who ooze credibility and authority. You won’t always be spoilt for choice, though. In that case, make sure the team is aware of its complementary strengths and weaknesses. Finding it difficult to put together a good team? The 4-colour insights model can certainly help you strike a balance.”

  1. Script the critical moves

“Don’t focus on the destination alone, but also on HOW you will get there: use checklists, a roadmap or a documented way of working and make sure that they are widely communicated. The paralyzing part is often in the details. Not clarifying the details might bring your change journey to a premature halt. Planning is therefore a powerful communication instrument.”

  1. Shrink the change

“Chop the change process into chunks. By setting clear-cut sub-goals you make the journey feasible for all of the team members. Produce short-term wins and celebrate them. Nothing motivates more than success!”

  1. Train the brain

“The brain is a muscle that can be trained. You can train it to drive a car, to run a marathon, and also to do things differently than before. The trick is to develop habits that allow you to move from the consciously incompetent to the unconsciously competent. But don’t underestimate the mental efforts this demands – which brings us to the next point.”

  1. Don’t judge, but listen

“Resistance isn’t always about resisting the Q (quality), i.e. the project or the methodology. In 99% of cases, anyone who’s lagging behind simply wants someone to talk to. Someone who will listen and not judge. Being offered the opportunity to vent any feelings of uncertainty or even personal problems is sometimes enough to make the resistance go away.”

  1. Acknowledge individual change: ADKAR

“Every individual needs to go through the 5 stages of the ADKAR model: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. It’s important to map out these stages in your overall project plan and identify these moments of truth – key milestones – turning points for this individual ‘temperature check’. In order to understand change at an individual level, get feedback from all of your stakeholders by conducting a survey. Make sure you report back to the group on what you’ve learned and communicate the top 3 actions you distilled from the survey.”

  1. Don’t ignore the + of not changing (and the – of change)

“Don’t be deaf to people who are resistant to the change project. Value their feedback, even if it’s negative. If you manage to convert them, you’ll send a powerful message to the other team members. If you can’t convince them, make sure you get results quickly.”

  1. Empower others to act

“Arrange the working environment (systems, processes, office) so that it facilitates the new approach. If you don’t want people to use Excel, then remove it from their computers. If you want people from different departments to work more closely together, start by putting their offices right next to each other. Or – and this is where a lot of companies fail: define the right set of KPIs. Why not identify KPIs in terms of process rather than output?”

“The secret to success is to manage change! I’ve learned the relevance of change agents, their roles and responsibilities, and how critical they are in driving the team through the process.”
Rui Miranda, Materials Planning Director at Anheuser-Busch InBev

“The eye-opener for me was the explicit role that’s allocated to the change agent.”
Kurt Van Rompaey, Lead Engineer Process Automation at Pfizer

More information on our MountK methodology

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