After the Webinar: Change Management Strategies – Leading through Organizational Transformation. Q&A with Dr. Chris Jones

Webinar presenter  Dr. Chris Jones answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Change Management Strategies: Leading through Organizational Transformation. Here are just a few of his responses.


Audience Question: When assigned to lead change in an unfamiliar organization, what is the best way to identify the most qualified, incredible people to put on your management team? 

Chris Jones: If I understand you correctly, if you are not familiar with the organization, and you are assigned organizational change within that organization, you’re actually a leg up on a lot of people. Because it’s often easier to lead change being an external candidate, or an external person, or even a relatively new person, than it is someone who has been there a while, who has established their own persona, and some may like them, some may not. Whereas, if you’re a new person, no one has really generated any ideas about you. The biggest thing that I would say is conduct interviews. Be cautious about doing groups of people at a time, because if you ask general questions, especially about management or any of their peers, you’re likely going to get a group answer. Which is going to be sanitized, if you will. Conduct interviews, and if you’ve got multiple departments within an organization, grab 2 or 3 people from that department. And then, ask their thoughts on the change, on the people involved with the change, and anybody that might be associated with it. And, I mean, even if you didn’t want to do interviews, you could always do anonymous surveys and send out surveys to people, let them know that their responses are anonymous, and will only be used in the aggregate, and then have them send in their opinions. And if you’re doing a survey, try not to call anybody out specifically, because that person’s likely going to get the survey at some point. But get people’s opinions, whether it’s, my suggestion, if you can do interviews, it adds a personal touch. And if it’s one-on-one, they’re going to tell you what they really think, especially if you’re a new person. But at the very least, send out filler surveys to get that information. I hope that answers the question.


Audience Question: Is there a best practice for implementing change within an organization that is largely made up of staff who have been part of the organization for a long time? 

Chris Jones: My personal opinion, and, again, it’s just because I just really like this book. You can follow those eight steps. So, build you a team of people that are motivated, that are driven, that have the right reputation, and the right mindset. However big or small, that may be. You want more than 1 or 2 people, obviously, in the team, if you can help it, but you also don’t want 20, okay? Get you, a team of individuals that can methodically plan out this strategic and methodical plan to get you from A to B. Create some excitement around that and drive that change to other people. There are so many things that you could use, or that you have at your disposal now, that you could use to drive excitement and get people on board. I mean, you can make videos, you can do funny pictures, you can make logos, you can create merchandise. There are so many things that you can do to really build momentum for the change that you can induce that repetition that’s needed to kind of get it ingrained in people’s minds. Especially when you have an overly established organization where change is not going to be easy because people are set in their ways. I’ve been doing it, doing it like this for 15 years, and it’s worked fine for me. Well, we wouldn’t be talking about change if it was working fine, but you can’t approach them with that attitude, right. You’ve got to build some momentum and the biggest thing that I could tell you, when you’re changing established norms, explain yourself. Explain the why, don’t just dictate explain why you want to make the change, or why you need to make the change.


Audience Question: If you are a boss and don’t agree with the change, what is the best way to present it to your staff? Are you supposed to just fake being excited? 

Chris Jones: Certainly, don’t fake being excited, and don’t be really negative or negative either. If you are genuinely concerned about the change and you feel that it is bad for your organization, have some evidentiary backing for your reasoning, and then present that to a leader or to the group itself. If it’s something that you just don’t like or don’t want to do, that’s one thing. But if it’s something, if it’s a change that they’re implementing, that you think is going to hurt the organization, whether it’s financially, whether it’s going to increase the turnover rate, whether it’s going to be harder to recruit, whether it’s going to put people’s lives in danger, or enhance the safety issues that you’re already experiencing. Have some evidentiary backing have some evidence and put something together that you can show those leaders your concern. And if, at that point, they still move forward with the change. And if you’re not kind of the main decision-maker, if you will. That’s one of those things where you either have to live with it or if it’s something that’s so detrimental that you just can’t. It might be time to look elsewhere. But don’t be discouraged if they have a change in place and they want it to happen and you are wholeheartedly disagreeing with that, that change, or that direction. And they turn you down. Depends on the goal of the, or how big the organization is, and where these directives are coming from, especially if you have a corporate that is managing several smaller organizations. And this is a companywide fit, and it might not be good for you all. It’s good for the rest of the 75% of the organizations that manages whatever. But the biggest thing to sum it up, if you disagree, have some evidence for your disagreement, put all of that together in a presentation that you can show the group and the leaders involved as to why this could negatively affect your company.


Audience Question: In practice, how does Kotter’s accelerated eight steps differ from the traditional eight-step method? And unfortunately, I don’t know what the traditional one is, but hopefully, I’m hoping that you do, Chris. 

Chris Jones: I do not. I can probably Google it. I wish I could give you an answer, but I’m not going to pretend like I know what the original one was. I know a lot of change management theories, and so far Kotter seems to be the most simplistic and the most easily implemented of what I read, I’m not really sure what the traditional ones that you’re referring to are. So, I apologize to whoever asked that.


Audience Question: How do we deal with a situation where the employees refused to implement the change, where we’ve tried and tried to get them to implement that change, but they just won’t do it? 

Chris Jones: That’s a tough one, and I’ve experienced that in several times in my career, and I’ve never liked to result to punitive measures. That’s not something that you even want to consider as a leader. It doesn’t always work this way, and, unfortunately, you have to, but you would hope that people will get behind you, support you and your decisions, if you’re leading in such a way that they want to follow you, basically anywhere that you go. One of the things, that I really like about what Peyton Manning said about Tony Dungy. Tony Dungy was the Colts’ coach for a long time and he was Peyton’s coach. And he said that Tony Dungy never raised his voice really. He never said bad words or cuss words. He never really was condescending or was derogatory to people. But when he told you to do something, you would do it in fear of disappointing him. Now that’s the kind of leader that I want to be. I want people to follow me and the direction that I’m taking, just because they don’t want to disappoint me that they respect me so much. Now, that’s not always possible. And you’re going to have people that just don’t bite at what you’re doing. And don’t want to do anything other than what they’ve been doing for years. When we’ve gone through if we’re using the Kotter Leading Change method. When we’ve gone through the steps and we’ve established momentum, we’ve got the evidence and the reason why we’re making the change, we’ve communicated that to our organization, to the employees. We’ve repeated what we want to do, we’re holding fast to it, we’ve developed a plan. we’re moving forward with that plan. And then you’ve got a select few people that are keeping you from achieving those results, at some point, they have to be held accountable for their actions. And again, I hate saying that we need to do anything punitive to anyone. But at some point, we’ve got to decide whether or not they’re best for our agency if they keep us or if they’re prohibiting us from achieving our goal and our end result. And we’ve got everyone else on board and all this momentum, and then you’ve got 1 or 2 people that are really just killing it for everybody. Then we’ve got to hold them accountable, and whatever that way maybe. And it could be as simple as calling them out, and I’m not saying calling them out in front of a bunch of people, but “Hey, come into my office and let me talk to you for a minute.” And it could be just an encouraging conversation to where you say, “Look, I can see your attitude. It’s overly obvious when we’re talking about this change or this process that we’re implementing. I know you’re not fond of it. We have worked long and hard on whether or not this is the right decision for our company. And, overwhelmingly, the answer is, yes, this is the direction we’re going. You are an important part of this organization. You play an important role in this organization, and I need you to help me by getting on board with what we’re doing. You will have just as big an impact on this as I will. So, I need you on my team.” It could be that simple, It’s just a matter of doing it.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Change Management Strategies: Leading through Organizational Transformation. 



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