Change Management: The No. 1 Contributor to Successful Change

July 22, 2009
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I’m returning from teaching a change management course to managers and employees at a major financial institution that is currently going through a great deal of change. The company put 160 people through the training classes – a significant financial investment, including both time and money, to provide change management training to their employees. The HR manager approaches me on the morning of the first day and asks,

“Was a management sponsor here to kick off the session?”

I shared with her that no one from their company kicked off the course. She rolled her eyes – her body language said everything.

Prosci, the industry leader in change management research, shows that the greatest contributor to change success is active and visible executive sponsorship (Prosci Benchmarking Report, 2007). I commend this company for recognizing the need to manage the ‘people side of change’ by seeking out change management training, and, they missed an incredible opportunity to show real leadership regarding the changes. A meeting kick-off from a senior leader to set the context for the changes would have been a powerful statement. In my experience, a good senior management kick-off covers and

I’m returning from teaching a change management course to managers and employees at a major financial institution that is currently going through a great deal of change. The company put 160 people through the training classes – a significant financial investment, including both time and money, to provide change management training to their employees. The HR manager approaches me on the morning of the first day and asks,

“Was a management sponsor here to kick off the session?”

I shared with her that no one from their company kicked off the course. She rolled her eyes – her body language said everything.

Prosci, the industry leader in change management research, shows that the greatest contributor to change success is active and visible executive sponsorship (Prosci Benchmarking Report, 2007). I commend this company for recognizing the need to manage the ‘people side of change’ by seeking out change management training, and, they missed an incredible opportunity to show real leadership regarding the changes. A meeting kick-off from a senior leader to set the context for the changes would have been a powerful statement. In my experience, a good senior management kick-off covers and achieves the following:

Later in the day I inquired about the changes the company was going through that lead them to invest in change management training. This company was working with a large consulting firm, paying even more money to them, to go through a ‘delayering’ process. The objective is to reduce the amount of management layers, meaning 20% of their managers would no longer have a job in a short while. In addition to the downsizing, they were overhauling their job roles, reporting structure, processes and tools under the mantra “Organizational Excellence.” Major, major change was underway. Showing active and visible executive sponsorship at the beginning of the change management training sessions was a missed opportunity for this executive team. They will receive that feedback in the follow up from this course. Leading effective change is a skill to be developed – even with senior executives.