Change Management: Graphic Change. Now! - management consulting | coaching
Graphic | Claus Pescha
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change management

Employees change! About change and the role of role models.

From Sabine Walter, Head of network management consulting | coaching

Current studies show that only about a quarter of all change projects succeed. For years, many management consultants have been earning money by assessing the "change fitness" or "change readiness" of companies. However, this does not have a positive influence on the success of change projects. Why? Because in many change projects the managers who initiate these changes are neither permanently involved in the process with their heads and hearts nor do they live the changes as real role models.

Factors for successful change processes

In our work we have identified 8 success factors in change processes:

  • TOP management really cares about change
  • The TOP management Communicates several times credibly and convincingly why this change is absolutely necessary at the present timeThe question is what concrete opportunities arise for everyone or what imminent risk is averted.
  • The TOP management takes away worries, fears, Questions and suggestions serious and is always available to answer questions.
  • The TOP management Deals honestly with own concerns and speaks openly about the critical success factors in the change process.
  • TOP management lives the change before the organisation is ready and thus sends a clear signal.
  • The TOP management ensures that all managers follow their example and impulses are thus strengthened and not slowed down by middle management.
  • TOP management concentrates on the desired objective and leaves room for the organisation to shape its own path to the goal.
  • All leaders notice and recognise small successes in change.

I go on below four success factors in more detail, as in my experience these are the ones that most often fall by the wayside.

Change management: Selected success factors

Top management really cares about change

This aspect is the Key to success. When managers initiate change not only because the supervisory board, investors or the capital market deem it necessary, but because it is important to them personally, they step in with a other attitude on.

When leaders really care about change, they care about it,

  • they also communicate in such a way that they reach others in the heart.
  • they live the change automatically and thus act as role models.

The following questions will help you to manage the change project in the Thinking through the process in advance and sharpening your opinion and attitude towards the desired outcome:

  • On a scale of 0-10, how important is it to me personally that this change succeeds?
  • What does it take for it to become even more important to me personally and for me to stand behind this change not only with my head but also with my heart?
  • What do we gain if this change succeeds?
  • What do I gain personally if this change succeeds?
  • What am I personally giving up in this process?
  • What are other opportunities that arise for me / us through this change?

Only when you as a leader have achieved a scale value greater than 8 in the first question should you initiate this change project. Only then do you have a chance to give the project your management attention until the project is a success.

From my own leadership and management experience, I know that there are also projects that you have to initiate without being behind them yourself. In such situations, I recommend communicating this and discussing the pre-listed questions together with the staff or team.

Change management: Selected success factors

Top management takes concerns, fears, questions and suggestions seriously

We humans love the familiar. Change therefore leads in most cases to questions, often also to worries or fears.

Worries and fears always arise when people feel that their basic needs are being restricted. Among these Basic needs count according to Maslow: Survival, security, belonging, recognition and self-fulfilment.

  • What do we lose when we initiate this process of change?
  • What are other risks for me / for us that this process involves?
  • What do the others need to know about me and the goal of the change so that they support the change with head and heart?
  • What worries, fears and questions might arise? Which of them are justified?
  • Which of these concerns, fears and questions do I share?

Many managers are of the opinion that you must have an immediate answer to all questions and a solution ready for all worries and fears. That is not the case. The first step is to listen - openly and without judgement. Listening is the task of the leaders. Finding answers and solutions is the task of the whole team. And if employees are able to contribute, then various needs are satisfied along the way, that of belonging, recognition and self-fulfilment.

Change management: Selected success factors

Top management deals honestly with its own concerns

This success factor follows on seamlessly from the previous one. Here, too, the opinion often prevails that top managers must not have any worries and fears. That is nonsense. Top managers are just as human as anyone else. The fact that they have worries and fears makes them approachable and more credible.

Of course, it depends on how they talk about your own worries and fears and - this is the more important point - whether they are really related to the change project.

Existential fears, for example, can be triggered and caused by a change project, but need not have anything to do with it.

Change management: Selected success factors

Top management leaves room for the organisation to shape the path to the goal

The most common mistake in change projects is that not only the goal but also the path to the goal is set in very narrow guard rails. Not only do you miss out on valuable ideas, but you also deprive the staff of any intrinsic motivation to commit to the change project.

If employees understand why a change is necessary and why it is necessary at the current time, they are on board and help to make the change project a success with their ideas and their energy.

Conclusion: Successful change management needs head and heart

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry summed it up aptly: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up men to get wood, assign tasks and divide up the work, but teach them to long for the vast, endless sea."

In summary, this means: For change processes to really succeed, there needs to be a vision that touches everyone's heart. It also needs a culture of trust and creative space so that staff and managers can shape the path to the goal themselves.

All those who really want to make a difference in their organisations should internalise that neither the size of the project budget nor the number of change agents determine whether the change really succeeds. What is needed - embedded in a culture of trust - is genuine personal interest in success, honesty, transparency; especially from top management.

Your next step to more change success

We are happy to accompany TOP managers and executives who initiate and shape change with this attitude in order to further develop their company.

Contact us by phone or email to discuss the change you would like to initiate.


Satisfied customers, which we are grateful for the Moderation and support of change projects have used and Recommend us, you will find in our references.

View references

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We send out our newsletter about once a month, providing tips and information on the topics of leadership and organisational development. You can cancel the subscription and unsubscribe at any time. We use the E-Mail address you provide here exclusively for sending the newsletter and do not pass it on to third parties.

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