The 5 ‘Ws’ HR should ask when implementing change

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How many changes are you dealing with right now?  Two?  Four?  The average is five and that’s just at work!  The issue facing us today is not when or how we’ll change, but how many changes will we have to deal with and how fast.  With this in mind, it’s no wonder over 70 per cent of change initiatives fail.  What can we do to help ourselves and our staff get better odds of success? Ask the 5 “W” questions. 
What?  Most importantly, identify what is staying the same.  When everything is uncertain, people have difficulty concentrating and performing.  Give staff a “landing point” or foundation where they can feel comfortable and productive.  They’ll be able to manage the changes from there more effectively.
Where?  Where do the multiple change initiatives intersect?  What can be identified as the “same” change?  This helps consolidate the newness for staff into smaller chunks that have multiple impacts.  This helps them to focus on a few change items versus being overwhelmed by multiple.
Why?  Clarify the success criteria of your changes.  If possible, include your staff in the definition of the criteria or in creating “social proof” – measures that they themselves can monitor and manage that link to the overall success criteria for the organization.  This helps them feel like they are in control of the outcome of the changes, keeping them motivated and engaged throughout. 
When?  Create clear milestones when results will be evaluated against the success criteria.  Include staff in the assessment and definitely celebrate the accomplishments so far.  Make sure that accomplishments include learnings from changes that don’t meet success criteria in order to ensure staff stays on the positive side of the change.  Highlighting what went wrong only devalues their efforts leading to de-motivation.
How?  How much of the how can you leave to the staff to determine?  Provide staff with direction on what the limitations of the change are (what’s the box?) and allow them to determine how they’ll create the change (how will they play in the sandbox?).  You might just be surprised by the creativity of their ideas and their sense of accountability for creating results.
About the Author
Linda Morgan, MA, HSDP, President of The Clic Effect Inc., specializes in dynamic change programs, conflict/diversity management, organizational culture, and leadership development. She has a diverse background in human systems intervention, adult education, strategic planning, capacity and team building, and change management.

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