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7 Best Practices When Initiating Change in Your Organization

Change can be hard.

Whether your organization is undertaking a new project, restructuring benefit plans, changing initiatives, job roles or addressing important issues, there will most likely be resistance. The key to success is remembering that it is not the organization itself that makes the change, but rather it’s the employees that will need to embrace the change in order for you to be successful.

Organizational change management is the blueprint for preparing, equipping and supporting your employees during these changing times. Here are 7 principles to help change leaders implement an effective and sustained transformational change.

  • Lead with the culture. Organizational culture is an important component of change management yet change leaders often fail to address it. Your organization’s existing culture is rich with shared history, values and beliefs, common attitudes and behaviors. The strategy is not to change the culture but to draw energy from it by tapping into the way people think, behave, work and feel. Start by finding culture elements that closely align with the change, bring them into the foreground so that those employees who will be affected by the change can see themselves fitting changes into their everyday working environment.
  • Start at the top. All successful change management initiatives start at the top. Do what I say and not what I do is not a winning strategy. Employees will look toward the leaders for strength, support and direction. Leaders who embrace the change first will challenge and motivate the rest of the organization.
  • Involve employees early. Frontline people whose jobs may be affected by the change can make or break a change initiative. When you begin to map out your change plan, involve them in the early stages on planning. By giving them a voice, they feel more invested in the project/change and can warn you about unforeseen issues.
  • Tie the rational and emotional case together. Administrators will often make the case for major change on the sole basis of strategic business objectives. However, employees such as teachers did not choose to become teachers because they were interested in strategic business objectives. They chose it because they care about the educational and developmental needs of children. Engage their hearts as well as their minds. Help them feel part of something momentous that ultimately impacts their students.
  • Target the “influencers”. Find those teachers, clerks and aides that influence others – these informal leaders act as role models and guides who other employees identify with and follow. There are three kinds of informal leaders: pride builders, trusted nodes and change ambassadors. Pride builders are good at motivating others and inspiring them to take pride in their work. Trusted nodes are go-to people. They are a keeper of company culture. And a change ambassador knows how to live the change the organization is making. They help spread the word as to why the change is important.
  • Communicate the message. Determine the messaging up front – make it short, simple and memorable. Choose an influencer to review the messaging and provide feedback. Then use multiple channels to spread the word – email, posters, announcements, meetings, etc. People need repetition in different forms to fully embody change.
  • Assess and adapt: Take the time to measure your success before moving on. Make note of what’s working, what’s not and make adjustments to the next steps. Employees watch for follow through – waiting to incorporate change until they see you are serious about it.

For more information on Change Management contact Mark Williams, Regional Vice President in our Eastern Region.

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Erin Woulfe
Erin Woulfe
Erin Woulfe likes to write about things that matter. Keeping her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the public sector world, she blogs about the latest legislative news and employee benefit trends that affect our school, city and county clients. She’s been with NIS since 2002. “I love connecting to our clients and providing them with the tools they need in order to administrate their plan,” says Erin. “Whether that be materials to educate their employees on certain benefits, how to effectively communicate change within an organization or just providing tips and how-to’s to help them make their job easier.”

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