Central to every large-scale change initiative is the belief that a strategic decision supports an organization’s ability to achieve a competitive advantage and its desired results.   When making the announcement for a large-scale initiative, senior leadership must state the business case “why” a strategic move will propel the organization forward. Beyond “making the business case,” senior leaders need to incorporate the guiding principle that “strategic change takes place more effectively when worked at three levels: organizational, team, and individual.”

At the organizational level, senior leaders need to communicate, model, and reinforce the rationale for change. At the team level, a manager must focus on addressing the impact of the change initiative and translating strategic goals into team responsibilities. At the individual level, senior leadership and first line managers must be equipped to support individuals with their “me” and transition related issues.

All of these practical considerations are necessary when implementing large-scale change and can help leaders be ready to execute with purpose and consistency.

Organizational Level:

  • Articulate and reinforce the vision for change and how the company values supportive change efforts
  • Communicate often to reduce uncertainty and provide clarity on what is still being worked out
  • Dedicate resources to support and ready middle managers with the change agility skills to execute the strategy
  • Ensure reward and recognition structures align with the revised objectives by accelerating reviews and implementation of updated performance evaluation criteria and processes

Team Level:

  • Reinforce the vision and continue to clarify the rationale for change
  • Assess impact of the change to the team – both from the “people” side and from a “work” perspective
  • Dedicate time and resources to “jump starting” teams, especially if the change results in new leadership, team composition, or ways of working together
  • Determine priorities and potential solutions that address business risks

Individual Level:

  • Recognize that individuals experience the same emotional turmoil felt when changes take place in their private lives (e.g., divorce or relocation) and need time to move through the process
  • Dedicate resources to address “me” issues (e.g., career transition support and role change learning requirements)
  • Monitor individual reactions to the change and how he/she accepts the new reality and understands expectations
  • Clarify roles, responsibilities, expectations, and capability requirements

Execution planning requires effort at all three levels; however, it starts with strategic planning at the organizational level. Thorough consideration and preparation will define why the change is required, what the organization is looking to accomplish, and how the effects of the change will be felt on the various groups and teams to properly inform implementation efforts. The “implementers” of the change need to be adequately prepared to execute the changes with their teams and individual employees.

WLH Consulting, Inc. can provide consulting services to gain alignment regarding the change strategy and develop an implementation plan that addresses organizational, team, and individual needs during large-scale change.

Wendy L. Heckelman, Ph.D.

Dr. Wendy Heckelman, president and founder of WLH Consulting, Inc. has over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 100 industry clients. These include pharmaceutical, biotech, health care, animal health medicines, and consumer products, as well as international non-profit organizations and growing entrepreneurial companies.

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