Change Management Consulting

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08 28 2013

5 Stages to Empowering Your People and Successfully Implementing Change

Business Management Consulting, Business Strategy and Implementation, Communication Issues, Mergers: How to Manage & Coach People Through Change, Mergers: How to Manage Organizational Change

August 2013


Stop for a moment and ask yourself: What significant changes are you and your team facing this season – perhaps a company or department merger, leader or employee development, or a new marketing approach? You probably have all the means – the site, the people, resources, even the blueprints for change – but do you have the ways? Do your people have the skills, knowledge, and experience to avoid lost time, lost tempers, and lost revenue? Can you grow your people and grow your organization, while also experiencing major change?

To successfully navigate and implement a merger or any major change effort, you will need to move your people into, through, and beyond the status quo. This means getting and keeping their buy-in and follow-through based on real trust and shared values. Can you help yourself while also helping them? Yes, it is possible, if you don’t mind putting yourself in what may become a highly political or vulnerable position. Mergers, for instance, induce some significant growing pains. They often lead to the loss of key staff and resources, as well as precious time and money. You may well be able to do it yourself, but keep this fact in mind: Do-it-yourself-ers are one of the main reasons 80% of all mergers fail, and fail miserably, at that. Is this what you want for your people (and your own sanity)?

You have some options. Remember the old adage, knowledge is power? Well, in this case this saying still rings true. Becoming knowledgeable about change can make the difference. The building blocks of change are: Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance. Knowing these five distinct stages of change and how to guide your staff through these stages will build a safety net around your staff and make them more productive sooner. Knowing the stages of change will make a real difference when you are seeking to keep rather than lose key people, maintain calm rather than suffer chaos, and know success rather than endure failure.

Helping your people anticipate and become comfortable with each next step, each natural and normal stage in a change process, will build their capacity as individuals and successful team players. This knowledge will have positive long-term, as well as short-term results.

Regardless of which stage a person is in, to get maximum results, it is essential to do the right thing at the right time within that stage. As leaders, we must have the foresight to recognize that each stage is equally important. Skipping or rushing through a stage would be misguided, because it would likely backfire and only slow down the process of productive change. Therefore, it is wise to learn how to slow down and take the time that is needed. In order to get it done faster, you must start slowly.

Five Basic Stages of Change: For a more comprehensive list on change go to:

Pre-contemplation. In this initial stage, individuals may be outwardly unaware of their problems or be in denial. Either way, they definitely do not want to appear broken or damaged. As a general rule, “Pre-contemplators” often wish other people would change, as in: “How can I get my superior to quit bothering me about my poor people skills? That’s just who I am.” or “Things will change during the next quarter when I get through this especially tough assignment.”

Contemplation. Contemplators are aware that they face problems and are seriously thinking about grappling with these problems sometime within the next six months.

Preparation. Individuals and organizations at this stage intend to take action within the next month. These individuals have taken personal responsibility for causing or contributing the need for change. In addition, these individuals have set a personalized measurable goal – a change that is under one’s own control, rather than dependent on someone else’s behavior.

Action. In this stage, individuals and organizations are taking concrete steps to change their behavior, experiences, or environment, in order to overcome their problems. Because action often brings up feelings of guilt, failure, coercion, and yearning to resume old familiar behaviors, individuals and organizations typically need a lot of support during this period. A sobering statistic: at any given time, only 10-15 percent of individuals or organizations in the process of change are engaged in the action stage.

Maintenance. During this stage, individuals and organizations work to consolidate their gains and prevent relapse. It is important that individuals and organizations remember that all merger experiences are different. Assuming a one-size-fits-all approach will not work! Instead, assess the group as individuals, to determine their stage of change. Go slowly. Anticipate backsliding. While the term “stages of change” suggests that change marches forward in a step-by-step, linear fashion, it actually occurs in a spiral pattern, meaning change comes in both forward and backward movement. This is normal and to be expected. Good leaders should educate their staff and clients about the inevitable spiraling nature of change to help counteract doubt, shame, and frustration about regressing to earlier stages.


All major change efforts have the probability of providing great opportunities for financial, organizational, and interpersonal growth. Designing the plan for change is the easy part. Implementing the plan effectively and gaining buy-in from all participants is where most leaders fall short. Take the time to assess your people as individuals, as well as in their teams. Know what to look for in advance. Understand the five stages of change and improve your odds of being successful.


Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

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08 21 2013

Mergers & Family Business Succession Plans: How to Coach and Manage People Through Change

Corporate Therapy, Mergers: How to Manage & Coach People Through Change, Mergers: How to Manage Organizational Change

August 2013


This is where you are, but… THIS is where you WANT to be…
  • People attend meetings, but they clearly aren’t working together nor are they working toward the same goals.
  • Some people are overly cautious and quiet while others are playing a silent game of tug-o-war.
  1. Problems, both spoken and unspoken, are discussed and effectively dealt with so that the team may focus on the tasks at hand.
  2. Additional evidence of improved communication can be seen by alleviating tension, as well as stressing joint camaraderie and vision.
  3. There are measurable reductions in the change timelines and expenses.
  • We have a clear vision of what our end results should look like, but we don’t have a step by step process on how to get there.
  • We don’t have a process to get our people to buy into our vision.
  1. Leaders, managers, and employees possess the skills necessary to navigate the ten stages of change which will help them be more creative and productive sooner.
  2. When people become aligned around and supportive of a common vision, their ability to embrace change increases.
  • This change process is creating challenges between management and employees that I’ve never encountered before.
  1. Leadership knows what employees need based on what they say and on which stage in the change process they are in.
  2. Leaders will know how to motivate or assist employees through all ten stages of the change process.
  3. Alternate solutions to management/employee challenges are found with effective techniques and clear results.
  4. Individual, group and organization performance will be measurably improved.
  • Leadership is making haphazard, uncalculated short-term decisions in order to ‘put out the fires.’
  • Reactive rather than proactive problem solving is not the approach we want to use, but leadership does not yet have the skills or knowledge to effectively implement any other approach.
  1. Management/leadership has a definite grasp of what behaviors to look for and what to say in various situations to elicit desired results.
  2. Communication and effectiveness are improved between management and staff.
  3. Bottom line objectives are met or exceeded.

Leadership Skills Necessary to Support Change

Over and over people bemoan, “Things are changing faster than ever.” Changes in what we do, how we do it, and who we do it with can leave employees out of breath and overwhelmed. Because employees and family members often feel caught in the middle of all of these changes, leadership needs to know what people are experiencing and what to do to assist them. All will benefit when guided respectfully through the predictable reactions to the various stages of change. The reactions may include conditions such as debilitating stress, poor morale, attitudes of non-commitment, and reactionary impulses, just to name a few.

The ineffective “olden days” when top leadership mandated, “Jump!”, and all employees responded with, “How high?” are gone. Companies nowadays have to change their focus quickly to excel through these more complex times. From the mass production models of the industrial revolution to today’s technology-based, high-speed information systems to the rapid-fire future issues of our global economy that are just around the corner, it behooves all of us to find a systematic way to grow ourselves and our people. The secret is to take the time to realign, rebuild, and recharge our departments and divisions, as well as to empower and revitalize those seemingly tired, angry employees to go forward, step up, and successfully meet the challenges that come with any change. Experiencing any major change process, like a merger or family succession plan, for example, is similar to experiencing a surgery. Like with surgery, every decision that is made before, during, or closely after the experience will likely do one of two things: improve your condition or worsen it. The challenge is, you had better be very confident in your objectives and methods before you make that first cut. or things will go down hill very quickly.

Let me show you today how you can improve your family business and increase market share by implementing these three crucial elements:

  1. Leading, managing, and coaching family members and employees through the ten stages of change; understanding the behaviors that individuals, families and organizations go through during a major change process. We will then focus on the management techniques necessary for meeting your objectives.
  2. Leading and managing people through various forms of feedback.
  3. Creating buy-in; giving the various family members and employees a voice so they will develop the intrinsic ownership of the vision which will be necessary for a successful merger or family succession plan.

Careful and considerate Merger Facilitation and family succession plans can give your family business and organization a clear direction — and truly redefine your company’s objectives. Contact me today to see how I can help you profit through improved communication before, during, and after your merger or family succession plan.

Kelly Graves, CEO
The Corporate Therapist
Cell: 1.530.321.5309
Toll-Free: 1.800.704.3785
Office: 1.530.321.5309
Internal Business Solutions, Inc.™

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Posted by at 4:38 PM