How do I Lead my Team Through Massive Organizational Change?

Henry Dumas

Franklin Covey presents “The Change Model” to visually portray the four zones of change, in order to assist leaders to understand where they and their team members are in regards to change. The “X” axis represents results. The “Y” axis represents time. This model allows leaders to understand the challenges and potential pitfalls and provides tools to coach team players through the four zones of change.

1.  Zone of Status Quo – This zone is exemplified by a steady state of business-as-usual. Team members feel comfortable and in control. However, the zone of status quo is temporary – change is happening all of the time. Some change is determined by you, some by others for you and some change is not expected. Choosing to remain in the zone of status quo is not an option.

2.  Zone of Disruption – As soon as you sense a change, you enter the zone of disruption. Results become unstable, the rules of the game are rewritten, things that were familiar disappear, what worked in the past may not work for you. Team members are uncomfortable at best, miserable at worst. Some organizations get stuck in this zone. If so, the organization ends up redefining normal as a lower level of results. Two things will help team members move through this zone: 1) helping them understand what is changing and why, and 2) helping them decide to act or get to the Point of Decision. As a leader, you want to get through this phase and pave the way for others to get through it, too.

3.  Zone of Adoption – This zone is defined when a team member reaches the point of decision and decides to act. This zone can appear nice and smooth. However, in reality it looks more like change/fail, change/go forward, change/ go backwards. Progressing through the zone of adoption can me messy. Team members feel lost, experience setbacks; even question the reason for the change. This is where change can fail because people cannot make it out of the dip. To get through the Zone of Adoption, leaders must keep team members focused on the expected benefits from the change, learn from setbacks, and stay committed.

4.   Zone of Better Performance – Here organizations begin getting results that are significantly higher than before the change. Team efforts begin to pay off. Team members feel energized and have a sense of achievement. New results begin multiplying and team members are enthusiastic. You have lead your team through change and arrived at better performance.

As a leader, you must create a mindset where change is expected. Predict where the change will take you and prepare your team to get there. Hone your vision. Create a communication plan.

Managing through the Zone of Disruption

In this phase, some team members will resist change. You may hear such things as “I want things to be like they were,” “I am happy the way things are,” or “I don’t understand what’s going on.” To help team members move through this, make sure team members understand the change and the reason for it; empower team members to decide what to do about the change; watch for obstacles and help members stuck in this phase to move forward.

Managing through the Zone of Adoption

Focus only on the most important things. Support team members as they navigate through challenges, failures, and successes. Track progress and provide data points that reinforce successes and illustrate trouble spots. When team members feel discouraged, be hands-on. Help them recommit and try again.

Managing through the Zone of Better Performance

At this point, your team is experiencing the satisfaction of improvement through change. They have made it through and now is the perfect time to reinforce your culture of change. They have experienced the benefits of change and now is the time to remind them how far they have come. Then help them look forward to what’s next.  Imagine it, plan it, do it.

A study in the Harvard Business Review stated that around 75% of corporate change initiatives fail to meet their objectives primarily due to mismanaged change. This mismanaged change is also the most important factor cited when boards fire their CEO.

The Top Six Reasons Why Changes Fail:

1.  Poor Change Managers – Even if they are experts in other areas, leaders who are unskilled at managing change may fail to adapt and fail to empower their team members.

2.  Lack of Vision – Lack of a clear, correct, and compelling vision from leaders and managers.

3.  One-way Communication – Unclear or one-way communication from managers or leaders to employees, even if it seems frequent. 

4.  Chaos – Too many changes at once, overload, lack of focus, or people working against each other.

5.   Silent Revolt – A failure to capture people’s hearts and minds may drive employees to disengage and work against the change.

6.   No Accountability – No objective measurement or accountability for each individual, whether a leader, manager or employee.

Five Elements Necessary for Successful Change:

1.   Vision: Vision involves understanding what is changing and why, as well as creating a clear picture of success that can be easily communicated to others.

2.   Communication: Clear, two-way dialogue between you and your team about the Vision. Communication involves sharing the          Vision, allowing team members to share concerns and ideas, and receiving confirmation back from the team that clarifies the Vision.

3.   Alignment: Alignment involves clarifying roles and responsibilities to unify the team and ensure everyone is working towards the    Vision. Teams should also understand how their contribution helps to move the organization forward.

4.   Engagement: Engagement involves people being interested and excited about making the change happen. They use their creativity and best efforts to fill their roles and motivate and support each other.

5.   Accountability: Accountability involves people knowing what is expected of them through specific, visible, measurable results and what exactly is under their control.

In summary, change is happening all of the time. Choosing to remain in the zone of status quo is not an option. The change model helps leaders and teams not to fear change but to embrace it. The change model also provides leaders with the tools to manage the process of change, so that team members and organization arrives at the zone of better performance!

Portrait Henry Dumas

Henry Dumas, Professional Certified Coach
I am passionate about helping business owners to stabilize and grow their businesses through one on one executive coaching. With over 30 years of private sector experience helping companies succeed in roles such as Sales Manager, Small Business Owner, Agency Manager, Chief Financial Officer, Public Accounting-Audit and Controller as well as certifications earned as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Covey Facilitator and GrowthWheel Certified Business Advisor, I am well positioned to engage, enlighten and empower business Owners.

Find Henry on LinkedIn

Explore Immediate-Enrollment Classes

More techtalks