An insightful Clubhouse conversation about Change

This week Heiske was invited to talk with Irene Janssen in the latest app ‘Clubhouse’. The topic was: ‘Change, how to bring others along?’

The phases in change

Irene kicked off with the phases changemakers, the ones who initiate or lead the change, experience:

  1. First they ignore you
  2. They laugh at you
  3. They fight you
  4. Finally, they join you

Heiske immediately took on the other perspective, the 4 phases people involved in a change experience:

  1. They are content with the status quo
  2. People realize something will change, but assume it won’t impact them
  3. Staff involved knows that they have to change, but are not sure yet what option or direction to choose. The risk here is that they feel overwhelmed by all the options to choose from and paralyze.
  4. They have chosen a direction and are working on required transformation

Order of steps to take in a change journey

Heiske called out that there is a specific order of steps to take in a change journey. She also shared that if you skip a step or do not execute them well, you have to go back to this specific step later on.

The sequence of steps:

1. Start with the right story.

This story includes the real problem, the case for change. Why is the status quo unacceptable? The story should paint the picture of the past, the current state and the future.

The future should be brought to live. What should it look like?

The picture about the future has to be inspirational and should trigger emotions. It should be the reason why people want to step out of bed every morning. They don’t know yet how to achieve that future state, but ‘WOW’ if they are able to achieve that… That would be great!

An example given by one of the participants was a vision defined for the garbage men and the people that work in the sewerage in Paris: ‘bring back the Salmon in the Seine’.

By having this vision, they realized the impact their work could have. By doing their work well, the water climate of the Seine would improve and as a result the Salmon would return. This goals was achieved in 2010 and obviously they are all proud about this great accomplishment.

2. Ensure commitment.

Leadership is expected to support the change. If not, you are in trouble. 🙂

As changemaker it is recommended to map all stakeholders and assess what they think about the change. Some stakeholders would love to see the change already been executed upon yesterday, others will only throw up roadblocks.

Avoid seeing the stakeholders that are against the change as enemies. Instead, learn from them. What issues do they foresee? If the issues are relevant, what actions can you take? How can you take away concerns?

When creating a communication plan, take into account the various change-phases stakeholders are in. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ message. You need to customize your communication to the various groups.

Good to know: you only need 25% of the population to start a change. The challenge is to find the supportive people. They can also be your ears and eyes to know what is going on in the undercurrent; is there ‘sabotage’ going on behind doors driven by the ones that are currently not in favor of the change? If so, create a safe environment to have a conversation about this. Listen and try to understand why people are acting the way they are. Good to know: when managed well, people can easily move from the ‘against change’ to the ‘pro change’ camp.

3. Support individual succes.

This step is focust on ensuring that involved staff has the required capabilities or resources to realize required change.

In this step it is also important to be clear about desired behavior; what is the required behavior to drive the results you are aiming for?

4. Execute.

Have a realistic plan in place and deliver. Obviously this requires the right governance structure and clear performance indicators to monitor and measure the progress and adjust approaches where needed.

During our Clubhouse conversation, one of the participants shared her experience with a change program where timelines were set at the beginning of the project. Setting timelines is valuable to try to adhere to. But you also need to be realistic. If a step takes longer than expected, then that’s the case. As already shared earlier, if you do not execute a specific step well, you have to go back to that step later on. So, if certain steps require more time for a good reason: dare to adjust the plan! Otherwise you will for sure run into issues later on.

5. Sustain the change.

Key to success

Key to success during a transformation are the following elements:

  • The X-factor of the changemaker. This person should have a contagious enthusiasm about the desired change and related future state. This requires congruence of intentions and actions: acting as a role model and consistency in the change-message during the transformation.
  • Ensuring and sharing success stories. Already small achievements should be shared as hero-stories. Showing success will help to overcome resistance.
  • Focus on emotions. Change is not about changing processes. It is about changing people. And changing people is about changing behavior. That’s why it is key to understand how human beings work and how you can use emotions to evoke behavior.
  • Follow the logical sequence of steps in a change process. There is a standard order of steps to take. You have to go back for sure if you haven’t properly executed a certain step.

Wanna learn more about change?

We will launch our online course ‘Change Management’ in March 2021. Two already existing online courses that are strongly related to Change Management are about Stakeholder Management and Strategy Setting. You can find them in our Academy.

Feel free to also join the next sessions about Change on Clubhouse, organized by Irene Janssen. Note: they are in Dutch only.