Change is inevitable. Change can be of great benefit, but often comes with great challenges. And it’s important to understand when change should be initiated.
In our last article we shared 4 reasons change might be necessary, including: danger, datedness, direction & dimension. Click here to learn more about these reasons.
The process of leading change will always look different according to the situation, but there are some key steps that need to be taken to lead change in just about every instance. Here is an acronym for the word C.H.A.N.G.E. to help remember each step. Remember that the step may be more or less vital depending on the type of change necessary.
6 Steps To Lead and Manage Significant Change In Your Organization
C – Create Your Change Initiative
The key question: what needs changing?
There needs to be good reason for change (if you change things too often simply for the sake of change, then when it’s time for a significant change it will be harder to get people on board). Change in your organization should be based on creating a better pathway to reach your vision.
H – Hone Change Ideas Through Key Conversations With Core Leaders
The key question: Who can be influencers in this change process?
For lesser change, or in cases of change because of DANGER (see our last post) this step is less essential. For significant change of any kind, however, you don’t want to go it alone.
Conversations with your core leaders (staff and/or volunteers) will help refine the change initiative, provide perspective which you can’t have, create new elements to be added to the change, etc. In essence, it will take what (hopefully) is a good idea and make it better. We, as leaders, need to be humble enough to let this happen.
A great way to go through this process is by having the “meeting before the meeting”. This allows you not only to refine the idea, but also answer questions, address concerns, and create buy-in with those who will help influence others during the change process.
A – Activate a Well Thought Out Plan for Implementation
The key question: How are we going to accomplish this change?
A plan of action needs to be created with the input from core leaders (to help create ownership). This means the resulting change may not look exactly like it does in your vision. The plan needs to include the broader vision picture that is painted, as well as the details of implementation (primarily new structure, systems and processes).
The plan needs to be continually and effectively communicated through yourself and your core leaders. Along with the communication needs come equipping and empowering of others to accomplish the change.
N – Navigate Resistance
The key question: How do we mitigate the negative?
Almost all change meets resistance. Significant change usually meets significant resistance. Sometimes a leaders tendency is to forge ahead regardless, but addressing the resistance can help you gain important influencers and momentum.
Don’t be afraid to answer questions, or to take time to communicate to those that need a deeper understanding of the change, or to listen to those who have concerns (it might help you avoid a hazard that you don’t see!). People need to understand why the change is necessary – to “feel the pain” of the current situation – before they’ll embrace your proposed change. Meet it head on or it will only grow more substantial.
Another very important element in this step is to honor those who are being displaced in some way. It could be that you are adopting new techniques for ministry that is leaving some of your long-term volunteers in the dust. Or it could be a change in facility that was donated by a particular family. Or eliminating a system put in place by a key leader. Find ways to honor these people both privately and publicly.
G – Galvanize Change Through “Wins”
The key question: How can we highlight the positive?
When the change is initiated, find ways to “win small” and celebrate these wins. Highlight any movement forward and those who helped move the change forward.
Celebrating wins helps fuel momentum, silence doubters and encourage those who are invested.
E – Evaluate, Adjust and Build on Your Change
The key question: What do we need to adjust in the implementation of our change plan?
Your change initiative will not look like you envisioned it before you started. It’s almost inevitable that, somewhere along the way, the change will change! That’s ok. As you meet unexpected obstacles or are blessed with unexpected resources, evaluate where you’re at, adjust the sails and build out the change you are pursuing.
And don’t forget to celebrate along the way!