8 Steps to Introduce Change Without Wreaking Havoc

Leadership, Management, Spiritual Growth

Whether it’s welcomed and exciting or the result of constant modernization or the effects of a global pandemic, change is certain, inevitable, and constant. In business, change can come in many forms like pivoting to new systems, policies, or processes; rightsizing or restructuring; and improving culture and clarity of vision. The stakes are high for companies that ignore the winds of change in markets, demand cycles, products, services, and globalization. 

Whether it’s proactive or reactive, change is often a good thing––to improve current processes, to better support organizational objectives, and to help a company accomplish its mission. Regardless, change makes many people feel insecure, threatened, and fearful. A lack of clarity can fuel anger, confusion, and fear. And fears and insecurities, even when implicit or unconscious, can manifest in resistance, derailing even the best strategy.

We have the opportunity to approach change deliberately and lead employees through it more effectively. By understanding how people overcome “immunity to change,” we can plan our communication and execution strategies to mitigate fear-based frustration and lead a team to follow us confidently into a new reality.

We typically try to educate with information, but resistance to change often isn’t a knowledge problem. We must think about how to go from just sharing information with our teams to inspiring them to feel something. For example, if we want to improve customer service, we present them with the voice of an underserved customer in order to spark empathy. If we want to increase product-development innovation, we expose them to market competition in order to create a “burning platform” of necessity for change.

John Kotter, an organizational-change thought leader, says most people think change happens in the following progression:

  1. A careful analysis is presented…
  2. …which causes changed thinking…
  3. …which leads to behavioral change.

In Kotter’s experience, change almost never occurs that way. Rather, he defines the change model as SEE-FEEL-CHANGE:

  1. People SEE something…
  2. …that makes them FEEL something…
  3. …that gives them fuel to CHANGE.

It is easy for leaders to blame others or circumstances when change is resisted or poorly deployed. Too often, the true root of ineffective change is found in leaders who navigate change poorly. In his article, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail” and subsequent

works on change, Kotter outlines an eight-stage process for changing a culture.

Kotter’s 8-step model can be used to build a plan to implement a critical change that is expected or that needs to take effect in the business in the near future. Missing any of these steps can erode trust, foster resistance, and cost the organization’s mission. 

Trevor Smith, President of Maupin Travel and C12 Member, acquired a travel company and quickly noted the significant changes required for the company to grow and flourish. Injecting a new vision into an old business wasn’t going to be easy—watch to learn the key ingredient he led with and who they are today because of it.

             

Even when a change is necessary and good, the sequence and pace can be the difference between success and a mess. Change is emotional, so lack of clarity is akin to malpractice. We must be clear on both why “here” is not tolerable and why “there” is worth the “land between,” erring on the side of overcommunicating along the way.

Reflection Questions:

What change will be required to keep our organization relevant and successful in our rapidly changing business environment?

Which of Kotter’s steps do I need to reinforce in my leadership through change?

 

Footnotes:

John P. Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” Harvard Business Review, January 2007, https://hbr.org/2007/01/leading-change-why-transformation-efforts-fail.

  • Kevin Miller Bio

    With over a decade of experience in marketing leadership, brand management, and business development, Kevin has helped numerous companies refine and implement plans to create exponential growth.

    Prior to joining C12, Kevin led a successful Florida-based brand strategy consulting business focused on growing small and medium-sized businesses. Entrepreneurial in spirit, Kevin also has a diverse background in launching start-ups as well as helping struggling or stagnant businesses develop a new course of action. His experience incorporates knowledge from multiple industries including textile manufacturing and design, medicine, real estate, technology, web development, and the creative arts.

    After attending the University of Central Florida where he studied Music Performance, Kevin became involved in worship arts and youth ministries, serving for several years in various leadership roles. He and his wife Beth, an elementary school administrator, have been married since 2000. Together with two sons Kyle and Kamden, they enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking, hunting, fishing, and backpacking.

  • Troy Blackmon Bio

    Troy came to The C12 Group in 2008, with a diverse background in executive leadership, sales development, team building, and operations. Through his role as VP of Field Operations, he is committed to serve, equip and encourage CEOs and business owners to lead thriving companies that honor the Lord and serve people.

    During his tenure at Chick-fil-A, Inc. Troy learned that business excellence and glorifying God in the marketplace go hand in hand. Troy managed a P&L of $35+ million in revenue and coached business owners in operational excellence and improving financial results.

    In addition, Troy has been involved in leading small group ministry, including planting a church in Seattle, WA. Troy was formerly Partner at OneAccord, a management-consulting firm focused on accelerating revenue for mid-market companies. While at OneAccord, Troy was privileged to work with numerous technology companies in senior leadership positions, managing sales, marketing, and business development activities. Troy most recently served as the President of a technology private equity group, where he led the management teams of 4 portfolio businesses.

    Troy is married to his high school sweetheart, Shanna, and has been blessed with 4 children. He enjoys golf, cycling, and mountain biking with his family.

  • Mike Sharrow Bio

    Mike joined C12 as a member in 2010 while serving as an executive pastor for a large church in Texas and owner of a healthcare strategy consulting group.  Prior to that, he had served in a variety of leadership roles in both operations and sales corporately for the Walgreen Company, financial services as well as strategic development work with Health by Design.  In 2011 he exited his commitments to join the local C12 practice in San Antonio as an associate chair serving CEOs across that market.  In 2013 he and a partner acquired the greater Central Texas region and stewarded it as it grew to a team of 8 full-time chairmen serving nearly 150 leaders.  Mike is passionate about collaboration, strategic planning, Gospel initiatives and BHAG endeavors.

    With a background spanning Fortune 50 corporate settings, startups, non-profit and local church, Mike has been discipled into an integrated life perspective around the calling all believers share to be disciple-making disciples and ambassadors of Christ across all vocations and contexts.  It was in 2005 when God revealed to Mike the perils of a “sacred versus secular” duality in life and since then he’s been on the adventure of living one life in Christ, with work as worship, business as ministry and life as mission.

    Mike grew up in Alaska, graduated from Trinity International University and the Loyola Graduate School of Business.  He married his bijou of an Iowa farmers daughter, Jacqui, in 2002 and they have 2 girls, Elayna and Sophia.