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Breaking the Code on Effectively Sustaining Change Part 4: Lessons Learned for Overcoming Resistance to Change

So, you're attempting to implement a series of change events. But how successful are they really?

In previous articles derived from our leadership development program on implementing change, we discussed how change happens and the barriers to change which may create challenges, as well as presenting a general formula for change to help understand the key psychological motivators involved. In this final article, we will look at key lessons or overcoming resistance and sustaining change long term. We will do this in the context of planning, executing and completing a specific improvement event.

1. Pre-event:

  • Ensure the problem or opportunity has been accurately and precisely defined: failure to do this may cause the team to solve the wrong problem
  • Document the scope of the event in a single page charter. This single page summarizes and bounds the event. It should contain problem/opportunity statement, SMART objectives including measures of success, team lead, team members, champion/sponsor, facilitation support, dates/times of the event. Failure to document the objectives of an event before-hand allows the team to stray, reducing the probability of success.
  • Choose the right people to attend. The people actually performing the process under improvement are the experts. If you choose someone to attend just because they are available that week, you are likely to get undesired results.
  • Ensure all team roles are defined, understood and agreed to. Any participant (from champion to sponsor to team lead to team member) who does not perform their role jeopardizes the success of the event. Risk: people playing dual roles should be avoided.

2. During the Event

  • Kickoff by the champion/sponsor. Leadership must say and act like the event is important otherwise team members will wonder why they should care.
  • Just in time training: even experienced teams can use a reminder for each step in an improvement event. Keep it short then have the team execute. One of the values of a facilitator is to keep the team on track. The team members are the experts in process content; the facilitators are the experts in the process of improving.
  • Short daily briefings at the end of each day attended by champion/sponsor. Full out-brief at the end of the event.
  • The outbrief must contain a complete, specific action item list with a single person accountable to close each item. Shared actions should be broken into smaller pieces so accountability is clear. Ensure actions on communication surrounding the event and executive enablers are included. The team can do a lot – but there are often actions that leadership must take in order to ensure team success.
  • Attendance/accountability/eliminate distractions: if team members, who are the process experts keep leaving or getting pulled out, the larger team suffers. If leadership isn’t committed to the event, the team will ask why they are there.

3. Post-Event

  • FOLLOW-THROUGH. Need we say more? Evidence says we do – lack of follow through by any or all team members is the single largest cause of event failure and lack of sustainment. This includes leadership. Visibility: progress towards action closure as well as any lack of progress must be highly visible to the entire organization.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Do NOT wait until every action is closed to announce event success. Capitalize on the momentum of an event by celebrating and sharing many small victories along the way. Team and Customers like to hear about progress - give it to them!
  • When communicating, use avenues as much as possible. Email, existing business rhythm meetings, etc. Be wary of creating a “new newsletter” expressly for the purpose of communicating process/success. Focus rather on getting things done and sharing it in the manner the team is used to. If something special is warranted, go for it! Use good judgment.
  • Sustainability is dependent upon accountability (during all three phases of an event – pre, during and post).

Develop Leadership Skills for Success

The X-Stream Leadership Development Program can quickly and effectively train you to achieve high-performance goals.

Contact us today to learn more.

X-Stream Leadership Group, LLC   |   1248 Queen Street, Pottstown, PA 19464   |   PH (610) 908-2223   |   FX (610) 705-1892
Regional offices in Longmont, CO – Dallas, TX – Laurel Hill, FL serving clients in the larger Philadelphia, Denver and Dallas areas and World-Wide.