“Nothing is constant around here but change.”
That is what I told my staff nearly every day 10 years ago. And the advice remains the same. The change in the field continues at a rapid pace (see Surviving A Tidal Wave Of Change) and what we expect of our staff changes with it (see Overhauling Change Management).
How to approach the need to manage change? That was the focus of my presentation at The 2015 OPEN MINDS California Management Best Practices Institute session, Change Management For Staff: A Facilitated Discussion On Leading Your Team In A Changing Market, where I discussed a few of the tools available for addressing the need for change, head-on. To hear about change management in practice, I co-presented with Judith Shaplin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mountain Health and Community Services, and Dr. Steven Jellá, Associate Executive Director of San Diego Youth Services (SDYS).
Structured approaches to managing change abound, each with their own pros and cons.
The one I like the best is Kotter’s eight-step change model. Created by Harvard University Professor John Kotter, the model approaches change as a “campaign:”
- Increase the urgency for change
- Build a team dedicated to change
- Create the vision for change
- Communicate the need for change
- Empower staff with the ability to change
- Create short term goals
- Stay persistent
- Make the change permanent
What I like about Kotter is that he focuses more on preparing the workforce to accept change than on the change itself. While it’s eight steps – and you really can’t skip steps without diminishing the process – the process is easy. Yes, it takes time, as does almost any change management model. For more on Kotter’s model, visit the Kotter International website, The 8-Step Process for Leading Change.
Two other models I find interesting are Lewins’ change management model and MicKinsey’s 7-S model.
Lewin’s model starts by acknowledging that most people make an active effort to resist change; therefore step one is to “unfreeze” people with a period of “thawing” through motivation. Next, enter into a period of transition. This may last for some time, so be sure to resource this phase with sufficient leadership and reassurance. Finally, after successful roll-out of the change, “refreeze” staff into the “new normal” as they operate under the new guidelines (for more, see Where I Get My Leadership Advice).
What I like about Lewin’s model is that it’s an easy three-step process, and the “refreeze” phase allows the group to pause and reinforce the change. On the con side, the model lacks the flexibility to respond to the sometimes chaotic nature of change, and it takes time – time that in this fast-paced market, organizations may not have. to learn more about Lewin’s three-step model, check out Lewin’s 3-Stage Model of Change: Unfreezing, Changing & Refreezing.
McKinsey’s 7-S Model presents a seven step holistic approach to change management. These steps include:
- Shared values
I can see where this is an effective method with which to diagnose and understand an organization, but frankly it feels overwhelming. The steps are interrelated and must be addressed in a unified manner. Because of this inter-relationship, when one part changes, all parts change. That said, the model does provide structured guidance for those organizations seeking a more holistic approach to managing change. For more on the McKinsey model, see Enduring Ideas: The 7-S Framework.
Regardless of the process used to manage change, how we do so as leaders is equally important. Over the years I’ve gathered these tips from my mentors:
- Be authentic
- Be transparent
- Be inclusive
- Measure the progress of change
- Have patience
The only thing constant around health care these days is change. Executives need to embrace it. And, I hope you will join me and my colleague Howard Shiffman on September 24 for our session, Managing Change As A Leader’s Challenge: Models For Facilitating Organizational Change, at The 2015 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat.