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CareersOrganisational change is one of the hottest topics in the world of HR today. However, while the term may conjure images of a dynamic, flexible organisation where all business functions are executed flawlessly, the reality is that it takes a lot of planning and foundation building before the rewards of organisational change can be reaped.

According to John Kotter, Businessweek’s top rated “leadership guru”, an eight step methodology is the best way to successfully drive and manage change in an organisation.
Here is what he proposes:

1 Create a sense of urgency. Organisations must believe in the need for change. Good leadership will strengthen that conviction, making sure it is evident throughout the organisation before steering the new course.

2 Form a change coalition. Leaders should identify and influence opinion leaders within the organisation to support the change; this will eventually have a trickle down effect within the organisation.

3 Create a vision for change. The end results of the change should be clear; employees should be able to see the shape of things to come.

4 Communicate the vision. The vision should be integrated into communications, even influencing operational policies to show employees that the leaders are ‘living the vision’ and ‘leading by example’.

5 Remove obstacles. Resistance to change is natural. The people, policies and processes conflicting with the desired change should be redirected and modified to ensure buy-in from the whole organisation.

6 Create short-term wins. Success breeds success. Create motivation by dividing the goal into a series of attainable targets. If possible, bind the achievement of these targets to the rewards and compensation structure.

7 Build on the change. Once you have the ball rolling, accelerate. Analyse activities to see where you went right and where you can improve. Make sure to keep the excitement going.

8 Anchor the changes in corporate culture. Once the values and processes have set in, strengthen the change. Continuously rewarding and highlighting the new culture ensures that everyone supports the new approach. If you lose support, you might end where you started.

– Sahr Nadeem
The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company.

First published in the Careers Section of the DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 23, 2013.