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Ten Things managers should do to

Make Change Happen

and how to do them

People management skills

No. 2 in the management series 10 Things

John Mitchell
01626 866720


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

The 10 Things series

I hope you enjoyed and found Ten Things Managers do Wrong in Selection Interviews interesting and helpful. But have you put it into practice?

This is the second of the series of punchy booklets on people management and personal effectiveness - the 10 Things series designed for busy people.

It does not pretend to cover everything but gives a number of practical and hopefully useful ideas.

Failure to implement (F.T.I.) is one of the commonest mistakes in business. Be prepared to put the ideas into practice.

The contents of this free booklet are John Mitchell. You may reproduce extracts from it in newsletters etc as long as the source is acknowledged. If you know of others who might like a copy just get them to email me: dont forget we will need their business address so we can post it to them.

If you want help with implementation or further information just get in contact.

John Mitchell
Plymouth, Devon

People management skills

John Mitchell
01626 866720


John Mitchell

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

The critical moments: Most of us spend most of our working day doing things that are relatively routine and predicable. Perhaps 20% of our time is leading our people into new things managing change of one sort or another. This is the 20% that really tests and develops our leadership skills. These are the jobs we remember and this is where our performance is most in the limelight. or is it the spotlight?

Idea 1. The ability to change is the single most important feature of a sustainable organisation in the twenty-first century in all sectors. Sustainability depends on it. It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. (W Edwards Deming, 19001993). Action: Look around you; you and your people have three options resist, cooperate or lead (ignoring is resisting). Choose which one is for you. Idea 2. The planned approach to managing change (favoured by most accountants, engineers and project managers) is to anticipate, plan, implement, control and evaluate. One the other hand the emergent approach recognises that change impacts on irrational human beings and that the best laid project plans go astray. Therefore if you take the more flexible emergent approach you will pay attention to engaging the stakeholders and trying to understand what makes them tick. Idea 3. This booklet is written in a fairly prescriptive way (do this, then do that) as if there is one best practice way to effect change. That is the planned approach and it wont work if you adopt it rigidly. (Sorry!) What will work is if you understand the principles, adapt them for your situation, put them to work, monitor and adapt them as the situation unfolds. Action: Take the best of both approaches as befits your situation at times using firm plans and at others building in slack and making it up as you go along. Idea 4. Managing change can be a politically intensive activity. You may lose friends. This booklet is written to help you ensure your change is achieved without deceit, subterfuge, smoke or mirrors. Action: Please use the techniques herein ethically. Idea 5. It is very common to ask people or systems to change before you have made them ready. The result is frustrating resistance to the change and a lot of anger, wasted time and disenchantment. It is like trying to get a large lump of ice into a glass it can involve a lot of effort, time, hacking, cold fingers, danger and wasted ice. But there is a better way. Time invested in unfreezing the ice before you try and change it makes the job of getting it into the glass childsplay it will just pour in. Then you refreeze it and the job is done. No waste. Just a different way of doing it.
John Mitchell

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

This booklet is formatted around Kurt Lewins planned unfreeze-change-refreeze approach. Once unfrozen the change stage is then much easier gravity will be on your side. But you do need to do the refreezing afterwards. Otherwise people may revert to their old ways. Action: Allow time to unfreeze people it will be time well invested. I have also used Professor John Kotters established eight-stage approach to managing change.

Isnt change management just like project management?

There are overlaps and certainly the planning disciplines of the project manager will help if your change is complex and involves more than one strand of activity at a time. Change management is to project management what leadership is to general management change and leadership emphasise the inter-personal and inspirational aspects whilst general and project management are somewhat larger and call for a wider range of technical and technological skills. If yours is a big change and it would help if you learned the skills of project management just get in touch.

How relevant is neuro-linguistic programming?

Perception and influencing others to see things differently are very relevant to managing change. This booklet takes the well trodden managerial rather than a psychological approach to managing change. Both have their place. Perhaps an NLP guide to handling personal change should follow! Certainly you should be aware of transactional analysis.

And isnt change just about leadership?

Managing change is one of the things that leaders have to do. So generic leadership skills are important.

This publication may be copied and distributed as long as the

author is clearly acknowledged.

John Mitchell

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change


1. Should we change? 2. Identify stakeholders 3. Prepare a force-field analysis 4. Expect resistance

5. Establish a sense of urgency 6. Form a guiding coalition 7. Create a vision and sell it

8. Empower others to act on the vision 9. Plan for and create short term wins

10. Institutionalise the changes

John Mitchell

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 1. Ask, should we change? Keep your credibility - avoid inappropriate change

Behold! I am your new boss. I have solutions that are looking for problems.

Idea 6. Is this change for changes sake? New managers (particularly at board level) make changes in order to leave their mark, irrespective of the need for those changes. (Leaving a legacy is important.) Then someone else comes in to sort out the mess. It is important to identify the real problem before deciding how is should be solved. Action: Test your real motivations for wanting to change things. Idea 7. If you want to get the root cause of a problem use the 3-stage medical process: 1. Symptoms 2. Cause (diagnosis of real cause) 3. Treatment Action: Ask, am I addressing the real problem here or just the symptoms? Idea 8. Organisations have remarkably short memories. Has anything like this been tried before? If it was tried years ago and did not work why do you think it will be different for you? Have you noticed that organisations repeat their mistakes as soon as the corporate memory has been lost? Action: Find out if anyone has tried this before. If the did, what happened? Idea 9. Are you looking at the wider implications of your proposals? If you change system A what will be the wider implications for colleague B, customer C, manager D and computer system E? Action: Look at your changes in a wider business context. Idea 10. Our forebears learned that the grass is always greener on the other side. Remember the rule of unforeseen consequences when you tinker here there will be lots of other unforeseen results over there, some of which will be good but most will be bad and some may be critical. Action: From the outset be looking out for the unforeseen consequences.

What king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Luke Chapter 14 Verse 31

John Mitchell

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 2. Identify the stakeholders Who will be affected by your idea?

"Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention largely because they regard such departure as criticism of themselves." (Bertrand Russell)

Idea 11. Who will be affected by or want to be able to comment upon your proposed change? These are your stakeholders. Action: 1. Take a piece of paper and list them all. 2. Then put yourself in the shoes of each one. Here is a detailed template as an example: Contributor What is in it for them if we succeed? Another high profile success Fun! What is in it for them if he fails? Criticism from his managers Future contracting out What hidden agenda(s)? Dislikes some members of the IT team, (including the IT manager) How might they let me down? Design: Unattractive Hard to navigate Late Incomplete Over budget Actions for me

Web designer

Emphasise shared success Keep his manager aware and on him Have coffee with IT manager Have written agreement with his boss about our needs

(We deal more with stakeholder analysis in our project management programme.)

John Mitchell

"Well begun is half done." (Aristotle (384-322BC))

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

Common stakeholder attitudes that will need your attention:

1. Change fatigue
Idea 12. Cynicism can be the legacy of previous change. Years of restructuring, streamlining and right sizing can result in a sceptical, risk-averse culture, outwardly or subversively opposed to any new initiative including yours. Action: You will need to address this cynicism in your unfreezing.

2. Risk averse culture

Idea 13. Some people will reject change because they think they heard that someone once said that they had heard that someone had tried to change something somewhere in the organisation and it had not worked perfectly straightaway. Stakeholders may begin to ask, Will business suffer in the short term? Will our share price fall? Will workforce morale tumble? Worst of all, could I be blamed? Are people worried that this change might limit their career or that senior management, shareholders, the unions, staff, the regulators or grandma would oppose the change? Action: You will need to help people to see 1. The necessity of taking some risk. 2. How little risk is involved and 3. How great are the potential gains.

3. Satisfaction with the status quo?

Idea 14. Some people are sitting on their laurels. If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got. Action: Build into the unfreezing process ways to get people to acknowledge the shortcomings of things as they stand.

4. Pretending there are other things to sort out first

Idea 15. Will the movers and shakers on whom you will depend pretend that: 1. Starting your change will require someone else to initiate or approve it? 2. Something else must be sorted out first usually something massive?

5. Unjustified pessimism
Idea 16. Some stakeholders will believe that things are impossible when they are only complex and difficult.

6. Tactics designed to delay or derail your initiative

Idea 17. Leaving a good idea in the hands of someone to consider it, whilst his or her real motive is to bury it out of sight; putting things off until tomorrow, when there will be more time. However, tomorrow never comes. Actions: 1. Try to anticipate excuses and have your answers ready. 2. Try to sideline such opposition by getting things moving by some other route. 3. Dont be afraid to set reasonable deadlines for stakeholders to have sorted out their problems or to come back with formal responses. Then hold them to those deadlines.
John Mitchell

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 3. Analyse the forces How can you get leverage?

They will never agree to that!

If you are going ahead with this change you now need to list the forces that will support your change and the forces that will resist it.

What do you mean by forces? Such as?

Anything that will help or hinder you e.g.: People (stakeholders - you have already listed these) Systems and structures Policies and procedures Resources: Financial, physical, IT or intellectual Say you were considering moving to 24-hour working in a call centre: For: callers and their families, customer services, your new organisational values system, the chief executive, the local community, some managers and some staff, car parking. Against: heads of department, trade unions, your budget manager, IT system, some managers, support staff, some employees families, local residents, existing HR policies, our green policy. Then draw a force-field diagram to show how the forces are ranged up:

Forces for change

Forces against change

Failed to prepare? Prepare to fail

John Mitchell

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change Service users Chief executive Service users families Some staff Customer services Organisational values Some managers (Named) board members

Local community Car park manager

IT system Support staff Some employees families Trade unions

Heads of department Some managers (Named) board members

My budget manager Local residents Current HR policies Green policy

What does this show?

Your job is to maximise the forces pushing down and minimising those resisting. This diagram gives you a visual picture of the balance and should straightaway show you where the strongest forces are arranged (draw thicker arrows for stronger forces).

You can now begin to answer the questions, How can we maximise the forces for and minimise the forces against? How long might that take? Who else do I need to get involved? Action: Prepare a force-field diagram

Do I prepare this on my own?

Doing it with others will force you to justify your views about what the forces are, which direction they are facing and how strong they are. Like many visual aids the benefit is not the resulting piece of paper but the understanding you will get through the brainstorming and analysis to prepare it.

"Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature." George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 4. Expect resistance; work for acceptance Note to self: This will take time and resilience
I hate this place!

Idea 18. Life is a slowly turning kaleidoscope of changes for all of us. So dont think what you are doing is the only thing that is changing for your people. Other things at work, in their life outside work, in their minds and bodies are changing. Some things will be big; others small. Your perception is not their reality. Actions: 1. Expect resistance (at least initially) resistance is OK 2. Find out more about their take on the problem you are trying to solve 3. Go slow (now) to go fast (later) Idea 19. People vary in their willingness to accept change. Some thrive on it and others will be put off balance by even the smallest variation. Each person is different - in body, emotions, mind, behaviour and situation so each person will be affected differently by the change you want to bring about. Action: Get a few key people on your side and get them to be working on others Idea 20. Change involves uncertainty will it work, will I lose my job, will I have to work harder, will I look a fool because I wont understand the new ways etc? Some people have a greater ability to cope with such uncertainty. (Statistically these people tend to rise to more senior positions there is a strong correlation between the ability to live with risk and upward career progression.) Actions: 1. Reduce peoples level of uncertainty as much as you can by doing good analysis and planning (involving stakeholders whenever you can) 2. Communicate information to replace uncertainty with knowledge Idea 21. People operate in groups at work. You can win over the individual but fail to win over the peer group.

Action: Give people the opportunity to work through their responses to your change collectively and not just on a one-to-one basis. Idea 22. What makes you feel most threatened? - it is often related to feeling powerless.
John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

Action: Involve the people affected in decision making (dont present it as a done deal). Help them to feel they have a voice that is important and will be listened to. Idea 23. Significant change perceived as a threat (e.g. redundancy or a loss of status) often produces a chain of responses (DADA):





Actions: 1. Expect people to be disinterested at the outset 2. Ride out their anger towards you or the organisation it is a natural outpouring of feelings. Do not give up 3. Expect depression and all that goes with it reduced quality, productivity and creativity for example. Put in place ways to support people through their periods of depression or anxiety 4. Be prepared to negotiate to get peoples acceptance. But not too early

You can teach old dogs new tricks. It just takes longer.

Quick summary: You have looked at whether or not to initiate change, who is involved,
whether or not they are for or against your change and you are now prepared to be patient. (Four points through our ten and you havent started the change yet!) Lets start the unfreezing process creating dissatisfaction, getting your team together and generating a vision for the future.

John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 5. Establish a sense of urgency You need dissatisfied people

I really dont see the need to change. It will cost too much and it may not work.

Idea 24. Next you must mobilise the forces that for change and reduce the forces against it. Here is a simple and very useful tool. For people to support you they will need four things:
Vision of the future Knowledge of first step to take Their perception of cost of change

Dissatisfaction with status quo


Action: If you want a sense of urgency your job is (ethically!) to: Increase peoples: Dissatisfaction with things as they are (D) Awareness and belief in the vision of a brighter future (V) Willingness to take the first small step (K) Decrease everyones: Worries about the cost of change (C) NB. If the value of any component on the left (dissatisfaction, vision or knowledge of first step) is zero, change will not happen. Action: Think! Where are the scores low or zero?

Do I try to do all four at the same time?


Idea 25. It is obvious that you are motivated to move towards something you desire and away from something you dislike. Usually motivation involves both the push and the pull force. Busy and resource starved people are more likely to be motivated initially to move away from something that is currently unsatisfactory than towards something vague in the future. Action: At the outset concentrate upon getting people to look critically at the status quo. (You can deal with vision and the first step later.)
John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 6. Form a guiding coalition You need others to help you

None of us is as powerful as all of us

Idea 26. Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort. Power is not just from their position in the hierarchy. Some people are respected and influential because of their past achievements, their knowledge or their contacts.

Action: Identify one or more key people who can leverage the change.

Idea 27. They will need to be psychologically and practically engaged in the programme. They may need some warming up! So treat them like other people make sure they are dissatisfied with the status quo first. Action: 1. Get face to face with the potential members of the coalition 2. Get them to sense the shortcomings of the status quo before you launch into any project committee meeting Idea 28. The coalition will need to work as a team. Actions: 1. Check that there are no significant issues between coalition members that might derail your project 2. Do some team forming and norming before you expect them to start performing. (This does not need to be expensive, diverting or prolonged.) Idea 29. People do not need to be in control if they trust those who are in control. (And being lazy creatures people we like it if other people are doing all the work as long as we trust them!). So the more your guiding coalition is trusted the more they will get done. Action: Consider who is on your guiding coalition and run it so that it gets maximum trust from stakeholders particularly the key ones.

"Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more." William Cowper, poet (1731-1800)

John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 7. Create a vision and sell it Get to feel what the future could be like
"True wisdom consists not in seeing what is immediately before our eyes, but in foreseeing what is to come."
(Terence, Roman dramatist, 185-129 BC)

Now people are a little dissatisfied with the status quo your job is to inspire others to think of a better future and then to be willing to create it. (Putting together the plan for getting there comes later.)

Idea 30. Your vision is your picture of what things could be like. In your mind you can use your senses: Pictorial (better teamworking, new ways of working, an IT system that works) Set of sensations (delighted customers, an engaged workforce, reduced stress, going home on time, satisfied employee representatives) Physical things that can be touched (a new office building, new equipment, new environment) Sounds, smell or even tastes! You will then have to turn that into the common currency of business communication words. Your vision statement must be inspiring something that people will want to work towards. Action: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Stop and imagine how things might be Be bold break out of the usual boundaries Include things to appeal all the key stakeholders Capture that in words Now make the statement shorter and more inspirational. No. .

Dont I need a plan first?

Idea 31. If others properly catch your vision they will work out a plan to get there. In some ways it is useful not to have a plan at this stage, because people get diverted into critiquing the plan before they are properly sold on the vision. Then, when the planning and execution get difficult, their vision is not strong enough to carry them through and the change is abandoned. Action: If you have a plan (and most people even at the early stage!) keep quiet about it

So lets move on to getting the plan together:

John Mitchell leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately Good business


own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. (Jack Welch)

Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 8. Empower others to act on the vision Plan the journey and get approval
Whatever you want the answer is no!

You have some dissatisfaction with where things are now and you have a picture of the destination. Planning is mapping out the journey between where you are now and where you want to be. It is also about getting together the resources you will need one of which is stakeholder support. You will have your own ideas about the best way to formulate a plan and to get it accepted. (For ideas on planning methodologies you may want to get in touch with us about project management.)
Idea 32. Your coalition is already striving to get the trust of stakeholders. Now lets consider how best to get them involved in the decision-making. Action: Plot your strategy on the following line. The further right you go the less engagement you will achieve.


Joint problem solve

Management come to staff with the problem and together they work out the solution.



No progress can be made without all sides being in agreement

Management come to staff with their proposals to test the reaction and see how they can be improved. Management Management

Management inform staff what they have decided is going to happen

Proposals Both come from Power to Both implement rests with

Both Management

Management Management

The more left you are the lower the likelihood of discovering too late that stakeholders disagreed with your change from the outset.

Idea 33. How good will you be at communicating with staff? Is it usual to keep staff in the dark until the last minute? It is risky to release information gradually - the grapevine might get there before you do; with another message.
John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

Action: Engage with stakeholders in a staged way but as early as you can.

Idea 34. Use many different ways to communicate face-to-face, email, meetings, newsletter, posters etc. Many stakeholders will ignore the first few times they hear your messages. So make sure they are tuned in to your messages before you move on into the detail. Avoid repeating the same message stakeholders will get bored. Action: Communicate in different ways and before moving on identify ways of finding out the extent to which they have understood your message. Avoid finding out too late that they are not engaged.

Idea 35. Your enthusiasm should be infectious. Action: Make a conscious effort to do or say at least one thing to make your enthusiasm obvious to everyone you deal with in relation to the change. Have fun.

Idea 36 Expectancy theory tells us your stakeholders will think in this way: 1. If I take action 2. What will be the result? 3. How much do I want that? 4. Is that worth more to me than the cost of changing? The outcome of this unconscious thought process may vary from group to group and even from person to person. So, Action: Sell the benefits (not the features) of your change in terms each stakeholder group can relate to. Encourage them to say I want some of that!

Idea 37. You may need to address systems and structures that will seriously undermine your change. Action: Always be watching out for the bigger blocks that might stall your change and do something about each one dont ignore them

Idea 38. Your coalition will have the responsibility for moving things along. That may mean getting people to take some calculated risks or be creative. That is inevitable. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Action: Encourage risk taking and creativity.

John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

Attitude errors

1. Inadequate preparation Belief that the change will just happen without an awareness that there is a real problem, a vision, a plan, hard work and opposition. 2. Avoiding leadership Setting up a committee to avoid personal leadership and stifle change with bureaucracy. 3. Action without vision Acting before there is a vision or a reasonable plan. You need to get things done. But you need to plan well not just work hard. 4. Ignoring change in the hope it will go away 5. A blame culture If it works no one will notice; if it fails you will get the sack. Result? No change. 6. Satisfaction with the quick fix Behaving as if the real problems are addressed by introducing a poster, T-shirt, IT system, coffee mug, half-day seminar, new policy or publishing a newsletter article with photographs of smiling stakeholders.

John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 9. Plan for and create short-term wins You will need some quick wins
It is no use tinkering. Things will only get better when we get the really big issues sorted out.

Idea 39. If you wait for the full-orbed plan you might never do anything. You can't expect to sustain enthusiasm for a seven-year strategic plan without some visible recognition of short-term wins.

Action: 1. Watch for the point when there is a sense of dissatisfaction and a vision 2. Then decide the first steps on the journey. Do not delay waiting for the full plan. 3. Then flaunt those quick wins.

Idea 40. Remember the value of piloting. You may want to pilot the change and prepare your more formal roll out plan only after the pilot. By reducing risk this may bring you allies. Action: Consider a pilot scheme

Idea 41. Some people valuing only the big gestures and are not interested in incremental kaizen change. Transformation can consist of ten thousand little improvements. Visibility if crucial. Action: Unless yours is a deep transformational programme, go for quick wins.

Idea 42. It is easy to forget your allies and their value however small their apparent contribution. Actions: 1. Recognize and reward employees involved in the improvements however small. 2. Employ, develop and promote those whose behaviour is aligned with your vision.

Idea 43. Quick wins give you street cred and new allies that may then sponsor the bigger change. Always be doing something! Action: Flaunt the quick wins publicly.

Idea 44. If your piloting or quick wins are working your credibility will increase. You
John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

can use this social capital to change systems, structures, policies etc. Action: 1. Monitor your credibility during the quick win period.

Idea 45. If your change involves values and behaviours your guiding coalition has a responsibility to model these. Action: Make sure your coalition is practicing what your change programme preaches.

Stimulate but do not overwhelm.

Idea 46. It is important that you and your coalition enjoy the change process. Action: If the change process is getting you down, stop and ask why. Then do something about it

"My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there." Charles F Kettering, US engineer (18761958)

John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

No 10. Institutionalise the new approaches Refreeze things before they melt away
Old habits die hard

You need to refreeze people and systems into the new ways institutionalising them. (That said, you would not want to create a political state with heavy central control, appointment only of party members and the total abolition of dissent!)
Idea 47: Emphasise the positives. Actions: 1. Watch out for evidence of the connection between change and business success. 2. Where you find them, publicise them.

Idea 48: New leaders will need to be aware of the vision and succession plans should not ignore those who are already living it out. Actions: 1. Proof your selection criteria to ensure they include attitudes and behaviours relevant to the changes. 2. Look at who is going into the key posts and make sure they are proofed against a return to the old regime.

Idea 49: It is easy for the old ways to remain in policies, procedures, training etc. Actions: 1. Consider where documents were designed around the old ways and 2. Update them Idea 50: Have a progress report in team meetings. Actions: 1. Add this to team meeting agenda 2. Keep it on the agenda (perhaps quarterly) until the changes are institutionalised

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle (384-322BC)
John Mitchell


Ten Things Guide to Managing Change

And finally stick with it:
"What we obtain too cheap we esteem too little; it is dearness only that gives everything its value." Thomas Paine, British author, political theorist (1737-1809) (1737-

Thank you for reading through this booklet. I hope it gives you some practical ideas. If you would like to discuss these, any other aspect of people management and development or if you would like to discuss help with training in this or other topics, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

John Mitchell
Dawlish, Devon

The author runs a management training business based in Devon specialising in people management skills. He spent 12 years in personnel and development roles at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police before becoming a lecturer in human resource management in 1995. He holds an MA in Human Resource Management and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He is an examiner in human resource management, employee reward and performance management for an international examining board. He provides management training to a range of organisations but specialises in the higher education sector.

He invites readers to communicate with him about any aspect of this series of 10 Things publications.

John Mitchell

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John Mitchell