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The 8 Steps to Powerful Change Management

It's no secret: change is hard. It's unpredictable and scary, often evoking fear of failure, self-doubt, loss, guilt—even fear of success. With so much reluctance, it's no wonder 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals due to employee resistance and lack of management support.

Wondering what you can do to ensure your initiatives are part of that 30 percent that succeed? How can you help your boss, employees, and peers move from fear, anger, and frustration to hope, enthusiasm, and commitment? Pause, take a few moments, and check out these eight steps from Government Performance and Innovation Coach Nick Kittle.


Are you thinking of enacting a change in your team, organization, or community? Ensure your next project is a success by following this adaption of Dr. John Kotter's 8-Step Process for Leading Change:

  1. Establish urgency: Why does this change need to happen right now? Take your thoughts and clearly communicate those reasons to your stakeholders. Note: in the case of any projects surrounding COVID-19, the urgency is already been established for you.
  2. Build a coalition: Who are the people willing to help make this change possible? Who do you need on your team to move the needle? Start small. You don't need to tap into everyone right out of the gate, but you do need a group of positive folks in your corner.
  3. Form a vision: It's not enough to just say, "We're making change." Make it easy for others to understand why you're enacting change. Craft a solid vision by seeing the big picture and using that perspective to focus on the truly important things.
  4. Share that vision: Campaign the heck out of your vision and get it out there as much as possible. Don't worry about "overcommunicating" to your audience. It takes 3x the amount of communication you would think for people to understand and get on board. 
  5. Enable others to act on the vision: How empowered are your bosses, employees, peers, or community to make this change? Think about how you can get others to help you move toward your goal and grow the initiative beyond your coalition crew.
  6. Generate short-term wins: Small wins build momentum toward bigger wins. What are the smallest, quickest wins you can get your hands on? Whether it's collecting the data you need or starting a pilot project, start with lower effort items that would create a big impact.
  7. Build on the change: There's no reason your momentum should stop as your team, organization, or community returns to the "new normal." Plan ahead for lulls and think about what you can do to continue building on that change and improving processes.
  8. Anchor your new approach: Clearly communicate that this new way of doing things is now the expectation and the standard of work. Just like Sisyphus, you're rolling a huge stone up a giant hill. Strategize how you're going to wedge that stone so it doesn't roll backward. 


In support of the 8-step plan above, it always helps to have ideas, tips, and strategies from your industry peers who have experienced the same situation. Here are some of user-suggested strategies for dealing with recent changes at home, work, and in their community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Remind yourself that change is the only constant. Try to see this change as an opportunity and remember to take it all one step at a time.
  • Focus on building trust and understand that no one process changes the same way. Some people will need more time and different degrees of coaching.
  • Set realistic, measurable goals and allow room for unforeseen hurdles.
  • Give yourself some grace and remember that everyone struggles at times.
  • Seek support from positive people. Use your energy on those who are on board and don't be bothered by those that don't. As results mount, resistance fades.
  • Ensure you keep a designated work time—not all day—and set aside time for breaks.
  • Celebrate the small wins and focus on the things that are within your control.
  • Double down on relationship management. It's hard to manage change if the relationship is in the toilet.
  • Have a designated work station. Pack up at the end of the day to signal that your home office is transitioning back to being your actual home.
  • Have as many conversations as necessary with those experiencing anxiety over the change and continually reassure them.
  • Be honest with yourself and others about the change and be realistic about expectations.
  • Lead by example with authenticity and transparency.