3 practical ways to lead change effectively

I recently attended a great human resources seminar that was fast-paced, informative and thought-provoking, which is exactly how I like my training.

While I was excited about my learnings and ready with workplace change ideas, some attendees didn’t necessarily share my elation. In fact, an attendee I was partnered with admitted feeling a bit lost, overwhelmed and apprehensive. While the seminar information was valuable, implementing practical changes was a concern. And I’d say that’s very fair considering only 25% of change management initiatives are successful over the long term, according to a Towers Watson study. Change initiatives fail for a number of reasons, including poor planning, ineffective communication, employee misunderstandings, past resentments, shock and a feeling of lost control.

So as an HR professional, how do you influence long-lasting change? How do you turn ideas into action? While there isn’t a one-size- fits-all approach to positively bringing about change, there are steps you can take to set yourself up for greater success.

Never work alone

Everyone has a unique way of looking at a situation, and that’s why it’s so important to work with other people on your change initiative. The size of your team will depend on how large your change efforts are, but you always want to be working with at least three people.

To get the most value out of the group, be sure to encourage questions and the sharing of ideas. You should also always assign at least one person to play devil’s advocate. The goal is to continuously poke holes in your plan so that come time to execute, you have a solid well- thought-out plan and message to deliver.

Involve your employees

If you want employees to embrace change, then you need make them a part of the change. You can easily involve others by asking their opinions and getting their input.

Electronic surveys, town hall meetings and informal one-on-ones are effective ways to include others. You should also assign relevant tasks to employees whenever possible so they share responsibility and ownership of the change.

Explain “the why”

Simply telling people what to do won’t make the change stick nor will it get people to fully understand and appreciate the change. With this being said, it’s important to help people understand why the change is happening and why it’s so important.

Sharing a captivating story can be a great way to motivate others and to get them to see the problem and why things to need to change.

Answering these questions in your communications will also help:

  • Why is this change happening?
  • Why can’t things continue on the same path?
  • What benefits with come to the employees and company as a result of this change?

Good luck in your change management journey and in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Photo credit: Highways England/Flickr

Danielle Clark is a human resources manager with more than 10 years of HR and customer service experience in healthcare and retail organizations. Her work with Fortune 500 companies, in addition to a diverse professional and academic background, has trained Clark to be results-driven, people-focused and a thought-provoking leader. Her goal is to educate and inspire professionals to change their way of thinking. She is also an adjunct professor, active community volunteer, wife, mother and passionate lifelong learner.

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