Leaders who introduce Change Programs into their businesses will do so for any number of reasons but they will all have one outcome in mind – improving the current situation. Having decided that a change needs to happen some form of program needs to be put in place to deliver it.
The Change Program (or whatever else it may be called) needs to be managed and measured to ensure it moves forward in the right direction. The Leader won’t be the person who is involved in the day-to-day activities to deliver the program but they will be the person who is expected to set the vision for the change and justify it.
While the Leader will continue with their ‘day job’ they need to keep on top of the Change Program at all times to avoid it stagnating.
Don’t Walk Away
It’s all too tempting for a Leader to set a new direction or say what they want something changing and expect their business to do whatever is needed to make it happen. This might be satisfactory for relatively simple tasks and instructions but for significant change a Leader must stay engaged at all times. The level of engagement will differ depending on the changes being implemented, the business concerned and the people involved but continued engagement is a given. Without it people may think that the change has lost its importance over time. The last thing the Leader wants is to come back to the Change Program when they expect it to have completed only to find that it hasn’t.
Empower and Overtly Sponsor Your Change Champion
The Leader will give the task of implementing the change to someone within the business and task them with delivering the changes required. Like any task that person, no matter how senior, will need the authority to deliver what is needed which for any organizational change must come from the very top. Making sure everyone knows that the Change Champion is fully empowered from the top of the organization is absolutely critical to delivering successful change. This needs to be repeated regularly throughout the change implementation with the Leader overtly sponsoring their Change Champion. Without it the difficult discussions with others that the Champion will have may lead to nothing.
Even as the Leader continues with their numerous other activities it is essential that they listen in to the organizational chatter or grapevine as it is often the only way that they will discover what is really happening during a time of change. Communication is all about listening as well as transmitting but a Leader will only hear a fraction of what is out there if they rely solely on what they are told in formal briefings (senior managers tend only to give good news).
By listening carefully and being willing to modify what is changed or how changes are implemented the Leader will demonstrate flexibility and be better placed to deliver a change that is sustainable in the longer term.
Celebrate Success Along The Way
Any Change Program has a series of milestones and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) against which its success is judged. Usually success is only considered at the end of a program but by recognizing successes along the way and the contribution people have made the Leader will show continued commitment at times when people may be struggling to understand why the changes are occurring. A photograph of the Leader with individuals and teams as they achieve a particular milestone along the way is simple enough yet can be so helpful in keeping people motivated.
Since all Change Programs have the potential to cause uncertainty for those impacted by them it is imperative that Leaders put the necessary effort in to make sure they deliver all they can. By staying engaged, overtly sponsoring their Change Champion, listening to what’s really happening and celebrating success along the way the Leader increases the chances of the change delivering what was intended.
You might also be interested in Why Change Initiatives Fail
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