Does your executive team need change management training?

September 2018

Why do most change management initiatives fail? The answer comes as no surprise to anyone who’s experienced change in their personal or professional lives (meaning, everyone): change is difficult. It’s particularly difficult at an organisation that has built up its culture, as shifting that culture can be as hard for individuals as it would be to move across the country.

There’s a reason your organisation is undertaking a new path: in almost every instance the rationale for change is some form of increasing your competitive advantage. Most organisations have a compelling reason and a seemingly motivated executive team; so is change management training actually necessary? Absolutely.

Executives are the driving force in almost any change initiative and the speed of change and the probability of success is a function of their skill in managing change as much as their will to change. Like any competition, the better trained almost always wins. Change management training gives executives the opportunity to develop and sharpen these skills.

Here are some of the skills that must be sharpened:

Crafting the message for impact

Staff who know and understand the reasons for the new direction are much more likely to rally behind it. When initiating and announcing a change, it’s important for executives to be able to:

• Harness vision
• Clearly identify all of the reasons for change
• Shape those reasons into an overall message
• Break down the overall message into key statements for various managers, departments, and teams

Executives must communicate effectively with all involved; they must craft the message. When you’re considering change management training for executive teams, consider how they address communication skills in transitional times.

Creating a change roadmap

Carrying out a big change is hard enough, but mapping a change strategy is even harder. Every organisation is unique, and not all executives have been involved in a high-stakes transition. Through change management and leadership training, executives are better able to:

• Collect stakeholder input
• Gather thoughts from those who will be affected
• Make informed and inclusive decisions
• Seek engagement and commitment from employees
• Map action steps and a timetable for change
• Receive measurable feedback, which can be put to use if further transition is needed
• Create performance expectations
• Diagnose problems when the change initiative is in motion

With all of these skills, learned and understood, executives can create a solid roadmap for change that serves as the guiding document for the entire transitional period – and beyond.

Delegating responsibilities

Knowing how to delegate effectively is essential for executives managing many parts, but many leaders lack the ability to do this effectively. Instead of leaving the effectiveness of how work and responsibilities are delegated to chance, training programs can show executives exactly how to determine which managers should be assigned particular roles, which is especially important during a time of transition. Just as executives must lead teams through change and recognize the value within each individual, so must their managers and others responsible for change. Delegation training specifically teaches these skills. This type of training shows executives how to give the sign to direct reports that they have the freedom to act, as well as how to give informal coaching to improve problems and ensure employees take ownership of and deliver on their commitments.

Change need not be feared. A transformative time can be exciting for executives, managers, and individuals alike. For leaders at all ranks in the organisation, foundational training in change management, best practices and specialized leadership skills greatly improves capabilities – and is an organisational asset that will improve the organisation’s ability to sustainably compete in a marketplace where fast paced change is the norm.

Author: Chris Evans