Change Through Persuasion
Harvard Business Review
Faced with the need for a massive change, most managers respond predictably. They revamp the organization's strategy, shift around staff, and root out inefficiencies.They then wait patiently for performance to improve--only to be bitterly disappointed because they've failed to adequately prepare employees for the change. In this article, the authors contend that to make change stick, leaders must conduct an effective persuasion campaign--one that begins weeks or months before the turnaround plan is set in concrete. Like a political campaign, a persuasion campaign is largely one of differentiation from the past. Turnaround leaders must convince people that the organization is truly on its deathbed--or, at the very least, that radical changes are required if the organization is to survive and thrive. (This is a particularly difficult challenge when years of persistent problems have been accompanied by few changes in the status quo.) And they must demonstrate through word and deed that they are the right leaders with the right plan. Accomplishing all this calls for a four part communications strategy. Prior to announcing a turnaround plan, leaders need to set the stage for employees' acceptance of it. At the time of delivery, they must present a framework through which employees can interpret information and messages about the plan. As time passes, they must manage the mood so that employees' emotional states support implementation and follow-through. And at critical intervals, they must provide reinforcement to ensure that the desired changes take hold and that there's no backsliding. Using the example of the dramatic turnaround at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the authors elucidate the inner workings of a successful change effort. INSETS: Dysfunctional Routines;The Four Phases of a Persuasion Campaign.
Recommended CitationGarvin, David A. and Roberto, Michael A., "Change Through Persuasion" (2005). Management Department Journal Articles. Paper 15.