Change management in 3 steps

How to get employees to change when they don't want to

It's a pressure cooker business environment these days, and odds are you're going to blow it. When it comes to the transformation that businesses are seeking for a competitive edge, most initiatives fail, and that's usually because change is not managed effectively, writes Bo Vestergaard in a post at Harvard Business Review.

There are two signs you can look for to predict whether a transformation effort will succeed, advises Vestergaard, a consultant and professor at University College of Northern Denmark. First, employees on the front line are involved in developing and deploying solutions for change. Second, they show a sense of ownership regarding the reasons for the change.

Breaking down employee resistance to change and turning it into a driver of change is a major challenge but it's not impossible. Vestergaard explains how he helped the surgical unit in a hospital make it happen.

The process started with an email from the unit manager to the employees, spelling out a change in task responsibility that would take place two weeks forward. The email ignited stress and worries about layoffs, but it did not prompt anyone to start reorganizing the workload. Everyone was aware of the situation, except the manager.

Things got better when the interim manager brought everyone together and explained the reason behind the task that was being phased out, as well as her expectation that the employees would come up with ideas about how to reorganize the work. She oversaw an employee-developed prototype of a new work process and then put it into a testing phase. She met daily with the employees who were helping with the learning process.

Within about three months, not only was everyone on board with the new work process, but a new routine of collaboration and problem-solving had settled in as well.

For more:
- see Bo Vestergaard's post at Harvard Business Review

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