Blog / Leading People Through Change Effectively

Change can be a scary and uncomfortable concept for many people, especially when it comes to changes in the workplace. Many people prefer to stick with trusty tried and tested methods, whether they’re the most effective way of doing something or not. Change, more often than not, involves people stepping outside of their comfort zone, doing things differently and often people aren’t willing to do that.

According to business expert and author Dr John Kotter, more than 70% of all major transformational efforts fail ( and this is usually due to the approach businesses take to making changes within their workplace. Often businesses don’t provide their employees with enough information on what exactly is changing and why, and this can be one of the major barriers to getting people to be open to change.

There are, however, many ways in which you can set your business up for success and become part of the 30% of major transformational efforts that succeed.

Dr. Kotter is an expert in the field of impacting change, having studied countless leaders and organisations as they attempted to transform their businesses. During this time, Kotter noted what worked and what didn’t work and then created his 8-Step Process for Leading Change.

1. Create a sense of urgency

Creating a sense of urgency means using a significant opportunity as a means for getting people to want to see changes in their workplace. This can include keeping up with competitors in order that you don’t see a downturn in business and profit, implementing change prior to a major event and more.

2. Build a guiding coalition

Assemble a group with power and energy to lead collaborative change efforts. Identify the influential members of your team and get them on board in order that they can create enthusiasm with the other team members for change.

3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives

Create a strategy for change and develop strategic initiatives to achieve that vision. By identifying a clear strategy, you are providing a blueprint for change and showing exactly what needs to happen in order for it to work. This gives team members a clear idea of what is involved in bringing about change, rather than them having to guess (which is often the reason people are reluctant to change in the first place).

4. Enlist a volunteer army

Identify team members who are ready, willing and able to drive change. These people should engage in ongoing dialogue with other team members, ask for feedback and continually support those around them.

5. Enable action by removing barriers

Work to remove any obstacles to change and alter any systems or structures that pose threats to the achievement of the vision. There will always be barriers to change, identify them in advance and try to remove them as much as possible. Make change the easier option for people.

6. Generate short-term wins

Consistently track, evaluate and celebrate all accomplishments – small or large! Make it clear to everyone how each and every accomplishment is helping your business to succeed.

7. Sustain acceleration

Use increasing credibility to change systems, structures and policies that don’t align with the vision. Hire, promote and develop employees who can implement the vision. Reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes and volunteers.

8. Institute change

Articulate the connections between the new behaviours and success in the business and develop the means to ensure leadership development and success.

Change doesn’t have to be scary and uncomfortable and by following the eight steps from Dr. Kotter you’ll be carving out the right path to successful and sustained positive change.

Will you use Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change in your business next time you want to make transformational change?