A clear and shared vision

If people are to put effort and time into learning new skills and changing working routines, they must believe that the change has a value. This may be a personal value, eg a more interesting job, a pay increase, improved career prospects or that the changes are essential to the survival of the organisation. In some cases, actions that enable the organisation to survive involve the cutting of jobs. With change, there is always the fear of job cuts whether justified or not.

The less information that is available about the new changes, the greater the suspicion that changes will have a negative effect on the workforce – or some of them.

Therefore, the first rule of change is to involve employees as soon as possible. Involve them at all levels because they will have to adapt to changes and will have informed views about the best way to make them.

Everyone will view the changes from their own perspective. They will tell you what they think will and won’t work and why.

What people need to know?

  • Why are the changes necessary?
  • What are the benefits to the organisation and to me?
  • What will I need to do differently?
  • What help will I get to do it differently? Training? Time? Support?
  • Does my manager and their manager support the changes? How do I know they do? What do I do if they don’t?


Along with the practical questions that employees have about changes, they will be aware of the way that changes may challenge the existing values of the organisation. For example if a service has always been provided free of charge but now there is a plan to charge for the service, how will this fit? If some routines have always been done by doctors, but now they will be carried out by nursing staff, what does this say about the old way of doing things?

There are many models of organisational behaviour change. The benefits of using an organisational model is to clearly see the inter-dependency of different parts of the organisation; leadership, work climate, culture, systems and individual needs.  One of the most useful organisational models is the Warner Burke and George Litwin model (see link in resources below).

Cross-organisational groups can focus on the positive aspects of the new changes rather than just the problems change presents. A good exercise to do with change leaders is to invite them to visualise a day in their life six months or a year after the change has taken place.

  • How will they feel?
  • What will they do differently?
  • What will colleagues say about their jobs?
  • What will service users say about the service?
  • What improvements will they see if the changes are successful?

A follow on exercise is to ask the group what barriers they currently experience that prevent them from achieving this success? By unravelling the barriers as a group or pair exercise you can categories them as cultural issues, leadership issues or structural issues. This exercise highlights areas to work with as an integral aspect of managing the changes.

The roles of leaders

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Related Resources