How to initiate, inculcate, implement and institutionalise change in organizations

Many CEOs and senior managers are aggressively trying to bring radical changes and transform their companies to maintain their competitive advantage. It’s imperative for organisations to dynamically change in today’s ever-changing business environment.

However, most organisations aspiring to transform have their top management envisioning for a change, while rest of the organisation lacks clarity of what and how. Unfortunately close to 70% of change initiatives miserably fail either in the early stage or in the middle of change management process.

Most of these failures are due to lack of systematic involvement of middle-level managers to bring the change as envisioned. The possibility of successful transformation of any organisation is bleak and difficult when there is no endorsement for change from middle managers. At times there are agreements in the initial stages with all the excitement, but after a while when going gets tough the motivation for change wanes away. This eventually would lead to failure of change initiatives.

Largely middle managers should play a vital role in any change management attempt, as they are the key link between the macro levels of change initiatives and micro levels of change implementation. Middle-level managers serve as levers of change, influencing both the hierarchies above and below them.

Based on some of my recent assignments on  “change management and interventions” with few organisations and educational institutions, I found that proper planning and building an appropriate foundation for changes is the key to successful transformation. By understanding the systematic change management process, it becomes easier for the organisation to bring about change and the chances of success are greatly improved.

With my experience in working on change initiatives, I’ve developed a simple model “4-I Strategy for Change Management”.

4-I Strategy for Change Management:

1. Initiate:

The first step in any change management is the process of identifying the need for change. Today’s dynamic business environment provides a number of opportunities to change and improve. It’s only the attention to details that will provide required areas that need to be changed. It could be people, process, policy etc.

Mostly change is initiated by CEO or Senior Management after annual strategy meeting or after a major set back for the organisation or based on a trigger from the market, economy or business, etc. However at times senior management intellectually understands the need for change, but emotionally are unable to initiate it. It is because of uncertainty and lack of confidence in the change that could bring about a great transformation to the organisation.

Taking the lead in driving change requires very deliberate and strategic thinking about the future of the organisation with a long-term perspective.

2. Inculcate:

Once the change is initiated, next step in the process is to inculcate why what and how the change is going to take place. It’s all about planning and strategizing the operational part of the change process.

Here is where the change leaders fail in bringing middle-level managers into confidence. Middle managers are crucial partners for change initiatives, they should be the change agents who can positively influence employees to accept, embrace and bring about the change.

Inculcating change at an overview is, everyone in the organisation should be made aware of the need for change, understand the change process and their role they’ve to play in the change initiative. It’s all about creating readiness and willingness to change.

3. Implement:

Implementing change is getting things done with a number of difficulties, hindrances and roadblock for change. Enthusiasm for change might wane away with the challenges and difficulties faced with the changes implemented. Here is where the middle managers could significantly contribute to successful change initiative. These are the people who can influence the behaviours and attitudes that enable the desired change.

Converting the change strategy into tangible action items, identifying change warriors and encouraging them, finding the barriers for change and removing, supporting and enabling employees to change are some of the critical things to be done during the change implementation phase.

4. Institutionalise:

People who are accustomed to the older way of doing things might not be comfortable making the change and could drag their feet. It takes a whole lot of people to create an organisational change, but just one lazy employee who doesn’t want to change could bring everything back to status quo.

The fundamental goal of any change initiative should be sustainable change. Once the change is implemented, success is all about converting that change into a permanent organisational transformation.  It could be done by systematically enforcing the desired beliefs, values and behaviours, by encouraging to celebrate success and share stories of successful change, by rewarding new behaviours, converting the organisational culture in close relevance to the implemented change etc.

So, 4 – I strategy for Change Management is Initiate, Inculcate, Implement and Institutionalise.

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