Without the corresponding commitment of all those involved, change projects often come to nothing. In this article you can read how you can counteract this.

Classical or dynamic change management

Many organisations understand ‘change’ as a one-off project, which is handled according to classic project management. But many projects do not reach the desired goal. Why is this so?

Classic change management assumes that change projects are an exception to the normal course of business. At the end of such a project a new state is reached. This is fixed and should remain so in the future. However, if the change happens in a dynamic environment, it is a change process that is constantly in motion and brings about surprising turns.

Frank Wippermann writes about this in his (german) book Change Management in komplexen Situationen: “In (almost) all cases, however, changes lead to further changes, often in dimensions or core issues that were not the subject of the triggering change.”

Classical and new understanding of change

Change management in complex environments

If you want to manage change in complex environments, you should consider the changes in the structure, strategy and culture of your organization. Be prepared for surprises. Adjust continuously. And keep in mind the interests, values and resources of everyone involved. Change is then no longer a linear or causal process, but a continuous development. The more complex the internal and external world of your organisation is, the greater the complexity should be in your response. The flow turn map® offers a good navigation aid for this.

Six factors to strengthen change engagement

The commitment of those involved is of crucial importance when it comes to helping to shape a change project. In order to strengthen this commitment, you should start with these six set screws.

  1. is the change target achievable?
  2. how attractive is the future after the change?
  3. what positive or negative experiences have you already had with change in your organisation?
  4. how do you assess your personal benefits of the change?Was sind mögliche Vorteile für die Organisation?

How unattractive is the present, so that it is worthwhile to stand up for change?

The change analysis with the tool ‘Change Engagement‘

Start the ‘Change Engagement’ tool and answer 18 questions. You will then receive a result on which of these six factors you should urgently work on to strengthen the change commitment. Here you can see an evaluation example:

Our tip: It is worthwhile to fill out this tool with further participants. If you combine the individual results, you will get a neutral overall view of the degree of commitment to this change. This allows you to take the right measures in a targeted manner. We would be happy to support you in carrying out a complete as-is analysis.

6 tips with which you can promote change engagement

What to do if the tool’s result shows that the respondents do not support the change?  Check which of the 6 factors is worth considering.

  • Reachability of the change target

Only if you yourself believe that the goal is achievable can you convince the employees of this. Use examples to explain why this time will be enough. And that the change is feasible with the resources. If there are first successful pilot projects, have the people involved report on them.

  • Attractiveness of the future

Tell a concrete story about what the organization looks like when the change is complete. Select some key figures that already show progress. Demonstrate your belief in the seriousness and benefits of this future. This can be done in the form of a Change Story.

  • Previous experience with change

If there are negative experiences with change, great stories about the next project are of no use at all – on the contrary. So do not gloss over anything that went wrong. Explain plausibly what you want to do differently now. And what you have learnt from the previous failure.

  • Personal advantages

Point out the advantages of change. Make support offers to specifically named persons. Sometimes even participation can be an advantage – provided it is honestly meant. The employees are heard, experience appreciation. They can help shape the future of their organisation and their own future.

  • Benefits for the organization

People do not only look at their own advantages. They usually want to work in an organization that is successful. Therefore it is important to show the advantages for the organisation. What is better afterwards? What makes the organisation stronger after the change? Inform as often as possible about the advantages you see for the organisation. Use references and prominent supporters who can prove the advantages; e.g. customers, suppliers or committed employees.

  • Unattractiveness of the present

Those who believe that the current state is optimal have little interest in changing this state. In your “story” it is necessary to show the necessity of change. What is the point of pain? What is not working at the moment? How can you already see that the present situation is not optimal? Back up the current situation with credible facts and statements of individual persons. Make clear where the journey would lead if there were no change.

Think about how you communicate throughout the change process and how you organize participation. There are three tips you should definitely take to heart:

  1. communicate promptly
  2. create and maintain messages
  3. working with images

From our experience, there are many formats and channels for communication and participation. This list serves as a suggestion:

  • Letter to the Managing Director
  • Face-to-face talks
  • Newsletter or staff newspaper
  • Intranet information and change blog
  • Proprietary social media channel
  • Management forum with all managers
  • Posters and billboards
  • Works meetings
  • Employee workshops
  • Leadership Circle
  • Mentoring and sponsorships
  • Informal meetings (e.g. breakfast briefing)
  • Major event with marketplace character
  • Sweepstakes
  • Roadshow

Our marketing experts in the flow team will be happy to advise you on the internal communication campaign: flow campaigning

As further literature I recommend the study by Philip Maxton on the importance of change engagement in: AI Practitioner, 2019, Vol. 21, No. 1, p.51 f.

For questions regarding the application or evaluation of our tools, we are at your disposal. Just send me an e-mail with your questions.

Dieter Kannenberg

Photo: pixabay