Change Management: Kotter’s 8 Steps

Change is never easy, is it?

Whether it’s a change of apartment, a change of position, or even a personal change, this process is never easy.

That’s why change management is necessary, so that in the midst of this process, you don’t get lost and don’t go crazy.

Another very tricky point in making changes is that humans naturally tend to want to stay in their comfort zone. That is, it means that whatever changes you make will encounter resistance and you’ll need to use intelligence to bypass them.

With this in mind, John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School, has developed 8 steps of effective change management within organizations. So read on to learn these steps, as well as the continuous improvement which can assist in this process.

Kotter’s 8 steps for change management

1 – Create a sense of urgency

For a change to happen effectively, the first step is to involve the people who will participate in it. From senior management to employees and investors and customers.

It’s necessary for all people to understand the reasons for the change, and the importance of acting immediately, so that you can arouse motivation in each of them.

2 – Form powerful alliances

Another key step in managing change is the identification of employees and managers who can serve as agents of change.

You can choose these people not only because of the position they hold, but also for their status, experience in the subject, or even political importance.

In practice, they can influence the people in your circle during the change process and help eliminate problems before they even surface.

3 – Create a vision for change

Vision of changeJust as companies use forward thinking to guide teams in pursuit of strategic business objectives, they can leverage the same tool for change processes.

Here, you need to work out a vision with key values related to change, in a highly concise and objective way, allowing everyone to quickly understand what they need to do on a day to day basis to suit the new situation.

These first three steps are closely linked to the role of the consultant in a consultancy. So if you are interested in this subject, take a look at the article on how to do business consulting.

4 – Invest in communication

The change management process will likely compete for the team’s attention with many other priority issues in the organization.

Therefore, it’s fundamental to direct efforts so that you communicate the vision change properly at the different organizational levels to guarantee the whole company learns it.

5 – Empower the entire base

Some change processes fail not only because of people’s lack of commitment, but also because of the company’s lack of preparation when it comes to change.

In the fifth step, the Kotter theory proposes that companies make sure to remove human, technical and regulatory barriers properly. This way, it can embrace new solutions without hindrance.

This step to change is extremely important! Many leaders don’t give a voice to the base. It’s precisely these professionals who deal with failures every day, being critical when it comes to solving problems and making changes.

This is a well-worked concept in Lean Manufacturing, where Kaizen is applied to effect changes with the aim of improving processes, and it’s always necessary to go to Gemba to see how the process actually works.

You have to enable and empower people to make decisions independent of you. As I’ve learned, each person on a team is an extension of your leadership; if they feel empowered by you they will magnify your power to lead – Tom Ridge

6 – Short Term Goals

People feel more motivated when they see some progress in the activities they do.

Thus, another important step is the creation of goals and incentives for teams in the short term. This enables the celebration of achieved goals and gives rewards to those who act in favor of the change.

During change planning, this step also concerns the prioritization of initiatives. These are the effects which you can feel immediately, which help prove how the process is beneficial to the organization.

7 – Don’t slow down

While short-term gains are attractive at an early stage, true changes take some time to fully absorb.

So don’t lose focus on the structural and deeper changes. Only they will be able to bring about continuous improvements to processes and projects.

8 – Make change part of the culture

Kotter suggests more is needed than simply going through a period of change, or just managing change. He preaches that companies need to incorporate it into the DNA of the business.

Leadership must initiate this, by constantly reinforcing the new expectations. They must also incorporate it into formal systems, preventing everyone from forgetting the new reality due to habit.

Integrating change into a company’s culture will prepare your team for future changes. It’s up to managers to foster a suitable environment for organizations to go through smooth change processes.

Change is continuously improving!

As you know, companies need to constantly change and improve their processes to stay alive in an increasingly competitive market.

Professionals able to manage change well emerge in this scenario because they have both technical and human skills.

In the midst of this reality, Six Sigma methodology and Lean Manufacturing have become a reality in companies that always seek to change and improve, creating the professionals that are able to carry out projects, set goals, manage changes and leverage results.

Already know these methodologies? If the answer is no, don’t fall behind! Study, train, and prepare to make a leap in your career.

About the author

This post was written by Voitto, a company that has been fulfilling its mission to empower people in a competitive market through digital and face-to-face training in the areas of continuous improvement (Lean and Six Sigma), Management Software and Leadership Development, consultancies that rely on experience and management techniques to generate results for clients.

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