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Jeremy Pollack, Ph.D. is a conflict resolution specialist and founder of Pollack Peacebuilding and Peaceful Leaders Academy. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Peaceful Leadership Institute, the President of the Florida chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution, and Chair of the Workplace Peace Committee of Division 48 (Division of Peace Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. His credentials include being a Certified Organizational Development Coach (CODC™), a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Individual (CCTS-I™), and an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) under the International Coaching Federation. Jeremy is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Arizona College, and still actively participates in coaching and training sessions offered by his companies. He lives in Miami with his wife, Jenny, and their labradoodle, Denver.

Every modern organization has needed to adjust its ways of doing things over time. These adjustments occur for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s because customers demand different products or existing products become obsolete. Organizations might also restructure their management, formulate new workplace policies, or reshuffle employees to different departments or positions. Any of these events, individually or in combination, constitute what is commonly called organizational change.

In a nutshell, there is no continuing success in modern organizations without organizational change. However, the biggest question for organizations remains: How to implement change in the workplace. Implementing and managing change is challenging. Addressing these challenges is where Peaceful Leaders Academy comes in. As a trusted resource, our online courses offer comprehensive expertise in change management. This article is an example of how our courses can help you manage change and gain a competitive edge in the industry.

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Understanding Change Management

In very broad terms, change management for an organization means doing all things possible to control and manage change instead of letting it simply happen. It is a systematic approach to dealing with an organization’s changing objectives, technologies, or processes. The very purpose of change management is to put in place effective strategies that decide how the change processes unfold while also helping employees adapt to the change.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to understanding change in an organization. However, the Peaceful Leaders Academy identifies three fundamental aspects that are considered universally important in change management and change implementation in any organization, especially for senior leaders. These three fundamental aspects include:

  1. Preparedness: The change process is never an easy undertaking, and an organization cannot effectively implement change if they are not fully prepared. Preparedness in managing organizational change initiatives is critically important for a leader and organizational managers. These organizational leaders must scan the external environment, become aware of best practices in their industry, and keep track of the changes in the marketplace as a way of generating informed responses to the ensuing changes within their workplace.
  2. Change Leadership: Undeniably, change in the workplace means a shakeup in the organizational structure and the pursuit of new opportunities. As a direct result, change leadership is a critical aspect of managing change within the organization. Change leaders should champion the efforts of all employees, a requirement that is akin to influencing their actions toward the new direction the organization should take to implement change.
  3. Strategy: The most effective approach to the change management process also requires an organization’s ability to develop and execute a carefully designed change management strategy. A strategy is effective when it clearly outlines the what, why, when, how, and next steps in the change process for employees. An effective strategy is also one that understands the existence of sensitivities and political issues in the workplace, which usually occur naturally whenever an organization sets out to implement change.

Organizational senior leaders and managers tend to fall into the trap of ineffective communication, often fearing that they are over-communicating. That fear leaves employees confused for too long, which results in resistance and resentment toward the planned change initiatives. All these negativities in an organization boil down to poor change management strategy, and leaders in an organization must understand how to implement change in the workplace by coming up with a strategy as soon as there are changes.

The Crucial Role of Leadership

Leaders and managers play a crucial role in managing change within an organization. Their actions and efforts are what steer an organization toward new goals, highlighting the importance of leadership in managing change. Organizational leaders have the responsibility to introduce an organizational paradigm and a change management mentality in the workplace. Managing change requires, first and foremost, that everyone adopts the right mindset.

Often, some organizational leaders rely on time and other resources to adapt to change in the workplace. However, these resources are ineffective in actualizing change initiatives if there’s no consensus in the company’s culture. A leader can only implement change by fostering a change management mindset. This involves using the necessary skills to communicate and execute change properly. Leaders who fail to do this will face challenges in enacting lasting and profound change.

The crucial role of leadership is also evident in their ability to clarify the company’s vision, stay connected with employees, remain accountable, and be transparent during the change management process. When leaders fall short in meeting the expectations of change management, their employees may feel confused, disillusioned, and unmotivated. Such employees might question the need for change and doubt the abilities of their leaders to implement it effectively.

By fulfilling their role in managing the change, leaders can make change efficient and sustainable for partners, employees, clients, and other stakeholders.

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Key Strategies for Successful Change Implementation

Here’s a list of 11 practical strategies that will guarantee successful outcomes when you implement change initiatives.

1. Secure a buy-in from everyone in the organization

The first important strategy for a leader to implement change is to secure a buy-in from the entire organization. It simply means securing the ownership and commitment to change at every level in the organization as the most significant factor in determining the outcome of change implementation opportunities. An organization relies on the input of all its stakeholders, starting from the leadership to the management to the executives. The major goal of this strategy is to reduce any chances of resistance to change.

The inclusion of all stakeholders also means that employees at the lower levels of employment are heard, included, and valued. Including them in the organizational change will increase their chances of airing any conflicts and suggesting new ideas to implement change. By communicating with leadership and communicating to all employees about an intended change, a leader lays the foundation from which that very change is built.

2. Identify the scope of change

One other practical strategy in ensuring a successful implementation of organizational change is to identify the scope of change, which translates to defining the boundaries and the parameters of organizational change initiatives.

By determining the scope of the change, sector leaders will understand the depth and the extent of that change in their specific sectors. It also includes the deliberate determination of existing processes, systems, and individuals who will be affected by that change. Such clarity means that sector leaders and an organization’s management can set realistic expectations, manage the stakeholders’ understanding of change, and allocate available resources effectively.

A clearly identified change scope also minimizes potential disruptions while ensuring that the change management process is well-defined and manageable. When an organization can focus on these efforts, it ultimately increases the likelihood of success in adopting change.

3. Clearly define goals and objectives

It is only practical to have clearly defined goals and objectives during the change. It is a practical strategy that ensures that the entire organization has a roadmap for the change management process. An organization’s leader will use these goals and objectives to measure the aims of organizational change. In addition, clearly defined goals and objectives guide decision-making and resource allocation while becoming the source of direction and motivation for all stakeholders involved in the process.

4. Appoint change champions and advocates

Change implementation and change management are complex enough to warrant the appointment of change champions and advocates who play the critical role of driving the success of the desired change initiative. These are individuals who become agents of change based on their abilities to passionately influence, motivate, and help employees support and implement organizational change.

Advocates of change are those found on the higher levels of the organizational structure who become instrumental in inspiring confidence and overcoming any resistance. The dedication of champions and the influence of advocates is one practical strategy to get the outcomes desired from new opportunities.

5. Determine and Address Resistance to Change

It is common to experience some form of resistance when an organization wants to implement change. It is a natural reaction among employees, and it is only practical to asses and mitigate that resistance at the very beginning of the change implementation process. If leaders do not address these concerns, doubts, and fears, they could become a major hindrance when implementing change. It is a proactive approach to gaining employee buy-in and creating a more receptive environment for the change.

6. Appoint a change management team

More often, the change affects an entire organization and not just one department. Therefore, it is only practical for the organization to select representatives from each department to work as the cross-department change management team. The creation of the team follows the realization that the change implementation process will involve the implementation of several smaller projects that require a functional team with knowledge of what goes on in every department.

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7. Use open communication to prepare for change

It is essential to communicate clearly with employees before implementing organizational change processes. Open communication entails explaining to employees why the change is happening, how it will make their lives better, and its link to the company’s vision. Transparent communication prepares the workforce to accept change at an individual as well as company-wide level.

8. Start the implementation with small-scale pilot change projects

It can be hard to implement organizational-wide change all at once, and it is practical to start the implementation process with small-scale pilot change projects. These small projects are considered a perfect strategy when implementing changes that affect the entire organization. For example, they provide an opportunity to iron out any technical issues with the change or with the employees before organization-wide change is inevitable.

9. Set deadlines

Any organizational change is designed to modify existing business solutions. Before introducing any change in the organization, it is critical to set deadlines to prevent the possibility of engaging in an endless process when the change is left unmonitored. It is only practical to set realistic deadlines for the time when the change should be fully launched.

10. Document and hold meetings to share success stories

The change implementation process could take weeks or months—a long time to wait for the outcome of the process. It is prudent to hold regular meetings to share success stories to ensure that employees and customers remain motivated and inspired enough to keep working toward clearly defined goals and objectives. The documented successes also provide tangible evidence that the change is possible and that it leads to tangible improvements.

11. Monitor progress and keep in touch with every feedback

Organizational leaders must assess the progress of the change initiative as regularly as possible while keeping in touch with feedback from employees and customers. The close monitoring is designed to show any potential issues and deviations from the predetermined course of action. Monitoring the progress regularly also ensures that any slight deviation is corrected immediately to keep the change aligned with its goals and objectives.

Essentially, these practical strategies are pointers that leaders can use when implementing change in their organizations. However, leaders may remain unprepared in the face of inevitable change. Peaceful Leaders Academy’s online courses are designed to equip these leaders with the skills they need for successful change management.

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Addressing Employee Concerns

Naturally, employees will feel the greatest impact of the change implementation process. Given that the same employees are the greatest asset that an organization has when implementing the change, an organization must take practical steps to address employee concerns.

Here is a list of 7 strategies that can help organizations alleviate employee concerns:

  1. Leaders should pause and consider how employees feel about major initiatives and the change implementation process, especially paying attention to what made them motivated, anxious, or frustrated.
  2. Involve all employees in the process of setting the expectations of the ongoing change process, answer questions, and let them know that continual improvement in the workplace is inevitable if they must keep up with their competitors.
  3. Provide employees with assurance every other time, especially by telling them that their leaders will be present every step of the way.
  4. Tell the employees that whatever they used in the past was also good enough but that a new direction is necessary because of the changes in the external environment.
  5. Create a compelling and accessible vision of the intended outcomes of the change that is to be implemented.
  6. Finally, be specific about why and how the change would be implemented, complete with the timeline and the steps to be taken to implement the change.

Leadership in today’s corporate world is challenging, especially when managing teams during a change implementation process. Often, leaders struggle with communication during the change implementation process. Conflict has a high cost, and Peaceful Leaders Academy’s courses can come in handy and contribute to effective communication and conflict resolution in the face of change for these leaders.

Measuring and Sustaining Change

Change implementation is a major initiative in every organization. However, the implementation process is incomplete without the metrics and key performance indicators to gauge if the change is effective. Some metrics will give an organization a clear picture of the change management efficacy while providing a means to make data-driven decisions.

Here are 6 key metrics for measuring and sustaining change.

  1. Training effectiveness: Assess how much knowledge employees retain after training and determine how much of that knowledge is applied as skills in the workplace.
  2. Employee engagement metrics: Use surveys and feedback to assess how informed and engaged your employees are and answer questions during the change implementation process.
  3. Adoption rate: Measure the level at which employees are using new tools and systems while measuring the adherence levels to new procedures.
  4. Resistance Metrics: Record and track any issues related to the change as raised by employees. Keep a record of changes that have been actively addressed.
  5. Business outcome metrics: Monitor the key performance indicators to determine if the change is positively impacting business outcomes. These could include close attention paid to sales figures and customer satisfaction rates.
  6. Stakeholder support and satisfaction: Keep track of the number of stakeholders attending key meetings and watch out for their participation in key sessions.

Every organization can decide on the best ways to measure the success of their change initiatives. Change is never the same, and organizational leaders can benefit greatly from ongoing training tailored toward leadership skills from Peaceful Leaders Academy if they intend to develop the skills necessary to sustain positive changes within the organization.

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Explore Personalized Change Management Solutions with Peaceful Leaders Academy

Change is inevitable in today’s modern business environment. The frequency of these changes means that it can be challenging for organizational leaders to implement change and manage change in the workplace effectively. Organizational leaders should explore Peaceful Leaders Academy’s online courses on change management. These leaders do not even have to leave their desks because these courses are personalized and can be offered online. If you are an organizational leader, contact us today to find out more.

Jeremy Pollack, Ph.D. is a conflict resolution specialist and founder of Pollack Peacebuilding and Peaceful Leaders Academy. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Peaceful Leadership Institute, the President of the Florida chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution, and Chair of the Workplace Peace Committee of Division 48 (Division of Peace Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. His credentials include being a Certified Organizational Development Coach (CODC™), a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist-Individual (CCTS-I™), and an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) under the International Coaching Federation. Jeremy is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Arizona College, and still actively participates in coaching and training sessions offered by his companies. He lives in Miami with his wife, Jenny, and their labradoodle, Denver.