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Managing Organizational Change: A 3-Part Formula for Success

/ 10.17.17

Effective change management requires 10-17-17-3-part-formula-organizational-change-management.jpgaction at every level in an organization. Executives should provide inspiring visions of the future, directors and managers should be clear on goals and accountabilities, and individual contributors should execute daily tasks to consistently deliver on those goals and visions. If responsibilities break down at any level, managing organizational change effectively will seem like an impossible feat. So how can you make sure your change management strategies are effective? How can you keep all employees aligned?


Consider the Fogg Behavior Model developed by BJ Fogg, Director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. If you want to understand how to change peoples' behavior to optimize organizational change management, you should understand three things: motivation, ability, and the trigger that sets it all in motion.


Use this framework to change behaviors at the individual level to keep team members rowing in the right direction when managing organizational change.


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Organizations need employees who are motivated when change is on the horizon. Sparking motivation often requires vision from leadership and regular, purposeful communication from managers. Are your employees motivated? Here are a few questions to consider:


Are your employees engaged?

Managing organizational change is hard. It's even harder to manage when employees are disengaged from their day-to-day work, their teams, and the organization more broadly. Your organization should understand the state of employee engagement before, during, and after your organizational change initiatives. It will help you understand your likeliness to have motivated employees in the right places.


Are employees confident in their future fit?

Change often registers as a threat. Be considerate that employees’ outlooks on the future might be negative, or neutral at best. Employees need to know what their futures look like, even as the organization manages change. Discuss important team and employee goals, how roles might change, and how each individual fits into the organization’s future success in your manager-employee one-on-one meetings.


Do employees feel valued?

Showing extra appreciation during times of change will help ensure employees feel valued. Additional incentives (e.g., bonuses, overtime opportunity) can add to employees’ short-term motivation. We also know that peer-to-peer recognition can motivate employees to go above and beyond for their teammates and organization.



Several factors contribute to your employees' ability to deliver on what’s asked of them: skills, resources, infrastructure, personalities, leadership, managers, team members, and the list goes on. But more importantly, you need to know how difficult it will be. Are you expecting small changes or a life-changing shifts in employee behavior? As the behavior changes you're seeking become more difficult to accomplish, the more motivated your employees will need to be.


If your organizational change is asking too much of employees, you need to reassess the scope of the initiative. Consider these questions when assessing the ability of your employees and the difficulty of the necessary behavior change.


Do people have the resources they need?

Address your most basic resources first. Can your employees do their jobs with the resources they currently have? What about what when changes are implemented? Anticipate what resources you’ll need after changes are implemented, then secure those resources as soon as possible. Technologies and resources organizations leverage to boost employee performance are constantly evolving, so make sure you stay up to date with the resources your organization needs for managing organizational change effectively.


Do you have the right employees to make the changes you want going forward?

Your human capital strategy needs to be aligned with your change management strategy. Imagine your organization two years from now, and your organizational change has been executed flawlessly. What does your high-performing workforce look? Now take a look at your current state. What do you need to do to develop your current people, hire the right people, and ensure new hires’ long-term success?


Will the change be a stark contrast to what they'd been doing in the past?

You need to know how difficult the changes are going to be for employees — both from your perspective and theirs. If the changes are painful and require employees to learn new skills or leverage different strengths, give them ample time to adapt.



When does all the magic happen? It happens when you identify triggers that set behaviors into motion. If you’ve shown employees what a future behavior should look like, motivated them to embrace its potential, and trained them on how to do it, then now you need to trigger that behavior to take place.


Below are a few things to consider about behavioral triggers as they relate to effectively managing organizational change:


Can you identify your own behavioral triggers?

Try it out for yourself. Think of one of your habits, good or bad. What cues that habitual behavior? As a leader, you are asking your employees to change their behavior, so we suggest you be open to it as well. Whatever your commitment is, try to be more conscious of your own behavior and begin maximizing your own ability to harness the power of behavioral change.


Do you understand which part of your processes are changing?

Triggers are about understanding your processes at a granular level. Are your processes consistent between employees and teams? Do managers have an accurate view of their employees’ workflows? Each decision that employees make in the process of doing their work provides an opportunity for a trigger to facilitate optimal behavior. The better you understand your processes, the greater opportunity you have to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of employee behaviors.


Have you planned to train your employees to identify triggers?

We often assume that once you tell someone to change what they're doing, they’ll do it. It just isn't that simple; changing behavior takes time and practice. We recommend continuous coaching to help employees identify their most critical behavioral triggers. Track your challenges and successes when it comes to identifying triggers and acting upon them.


Are you trying to do too much?

You won't change everything at once, so start small. Just as organizational change doesn't happen overnight, behavioral change at the individual level won't either. Change happens as a function of deliberate iterations over time. If you try to accomplish too much too fast, you will increase your rate of failure. Instead, make a tremendous change in your organization by concentrating your focus on the most important things first.


Organizational effectiveness requires attention to detail at every level of the organization. Times of change are no exception. Now that you have a better understanding of how individual behavior change works, leverage the formula above when managing organizational change.


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