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3 Tips to Make Change ‘Stick” In Your Organization

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Government is challenged by the increasing need to embrace organizational change.  All types of change.  Organizational change that includes attracting (and retaining) new talent at your agency, creating (and managing) new strategy to optimize performance/maximize effectiveness, weeding out duplicative programs and, maybe the most pressing current challenge, navigating (and surviving) the repercussions of sequestration and furloughs. 

Leadership is well aware of the need for change in government, but ironically, often doesn’t recognize the change success prerequisite—proactively managing throughout the change process.   

Typical change initiatives are initiated like this, with a leader saying (or even worse, thinking): “We probably don’t need to give this presentation on [insert looming change], we’ll just tell employees the change is coming. They need to be ready to ‘deal’ with the change and adjust accordingly.” 

Does that careless line of thinking sound familiar?  This is, needless to say, not a successful approach to change management. So, how do you manage change?  Here are a few suggestions to get started:

1. Define the Challenge

Change is hard.  Take a deep dive to more comprehensively understand the needs of an organization adapting to constant change.  Fantastic tools are available to initiate the deep dive that can include assessments, interviews, and surveys.  This information is accumulated to form the foundation of a process that will not only support the organization, but also enhance the success potential of each project.  The critical component to this suggestion is each project.  Each change project is unique and should be proactively managed. 

2. Create a Change Management Team

Change is not a “one man band.”  Create a transformation team representative of the organization to champion the organizational change.  The most detailed change process will not help anyone in the organization without an implementation team.  Create a Transition Management Team (TMT).  The focus of the TMT is to gather information, define the methodology, and guide the strategy from start to finish.  The change team can be voluntary or appointed, but it must be representative of the entire organization to be effective. 

3. Implement a Strategic Anchor

Make it stick.  Institutionalize a series of steps that define the process for each change initiative that is rooted in the current mission/vision as well as strategic goals for the future.  Aligning internal processes with currently defined values and norms will familiarize staff with the process and remove elements of ambiguity that are often associated with organizational change.

Organizational change needs to be managed. The steps should be defined to meet the distinctive needs of the organization and the unique nature of each change initiative. 

How have you seen leaders help organizations adapt to change?

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Dr. Victoria M. Grady is an Assistant Professorial Lecturer at The George Washington University in Washington D.C., Principal Consultant at PivotPoint Business Solutions and co-author of The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change.

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