The 6 key points Harold makes are:

1. Know what your starting point is
2. Make sure there is creative tension
3. Formulate a plan, then build your coalition
4. Take on board the best suggestions
5. Execute – quickly, decisively, with integrity
6. Make the changes real

Ask your question: http://www.drharoldhillman.com/ask-harold-show.html

YouTube Link: 6 Tips for a Successful Change Project | Episode 2

Full transcript:  6 Tips for a Successful Change Project | Episode 2

Ask Harold Episode 2 Transcript:

On this episode we talk about one person’s challenge to lead a major change program at work.

Hello and welcome to Ask Harold. This is a show all about you. On each episode I’ll answer one question from you on any topic related to leadership, business and performance; all to help you be more successful at work.

Who am I? I’m Harold Hillman. I’m a leadership and business coach and I work with many chief executives and their senior management teams. I believe that knowing how to lead teams and organisations through major change is the most important skill required in business today. I’m also the author of two books on Authentic Leadership: The Impostor Syndrome and Fitting In, Standing Out.

Today we have a great question for our second Ask Harold episode. This question is from Cynthia, and it’s a pretty common challenge for many of you who get asked to lead a major change program at work. Cynthia writes:

We are starting a major change initiative at work. We have 400 employees and this particular change initiative will affect each person.
I’m part of the team that will lead the change. I’ve led big change programs before, but some have not made it across the finish line. For each of the past initiatives we did due diligence, informed key stakeholders, and made a good case for why these changes were needed. However, we still ended up short on reaching some important goals.

Harold, what are some key things I should take into consideration to make this upcoming change initiative a success?

Kind regards,


So Cynthia, your question is a very important one given that the cycles of change in business have compressed, shortened significantly over the past decade. Knowing how to lead your team or the company through a major change program is absolutely critical.

There are 6 things that I want to cover with you:

1. The first one is: know what your starting point is. What is your starting point? Are you starting from a position of needing to fix something because something is broken? If that’s the case, that’s a different message and then that’s a different energy. Sometimes nothing’s broken, but you really want to, sort of, take advantage of an opportunity. That way you have to compel people towards a different way of seeing things. So get your starting point clear because it will determine what your message is. Reacting and building are two different messages and two different sources of energy. So get right, get straight on those.

2. The second thing you want to do is to make sure that there is creative tension around the change. Think of the rubber band and the two ends of a rubber band: the top end is what we call vision and the bottom end is what we call current reality. To get people motivated about any change, you’ve got to pull that vision up so that it’s compelling enough to get people to consider that there might be a better way of doing things and you have to get people a bit dissatisfied with the current reality: sometimes, even when there’s not really a fire in place, you still have to get people dissatisfied. So that creative tension is very important.

3. The third thing you need to do is to formulate a plan. Formulate what the parameters are around the change. You don’t need to do that in a big committee – get a few people around you, a few people who can help you shape the playing field, and then you begin to bring on, build, a coalition of people that are going to help you. It’s better to get all the people who are going to be impacted by the change onboard sooner than later. If you do that later, there are going to be consequences to be paid.

4. The fourth thing you want to do is to really take onboard the best suggestions from those people. So even though you have defined the playing field and the parameters, don’t get too stuck in your own thinking to the point where you miss some very good ideas from those people who you’ve brought on board to help you think. So take on the best suggestions because when you’re taking people through change, they’re more likely to support that change if they hear their own views reflected in the decisions that you make.

5. The fifth thing that I’d like for you to do, Cynthia, is to execute: quickly, decisively, and with integrity. So once you’ve decided to do it, don’t take it slice by slice… by slice… Sometimes organisations will take the better part of a half year, some almost a year, to make it through a change program. Whether or not there are a lot of people in the organization, you want to take the organization through change, get to the other side of it and stabilize as quickly as possible. And don’t forget the integrity part, which is: being authentic with people, candid with people, having genuine conversations.

6. The sixth thing that you want to do is: make the changes real. Don’t have them be on top of business as usual. Make those changes business as usual where they become part of the language; where you begin to hire people based on their ability to do things a certain way or to think a certain way. Or begin to promote people on that basis as well. They can begin to hardwire those changes in so that they take root.

Thank you Cynthia for your question and thanks to you all for listening to Ask Harold. On the next episode I will be answering a question from a viewer who wants to shake things up a bit without alienating himself from the team. This is a pretty common dilemma if you’ve ever tried to shake things up; so tune in next time to hear more about that.

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Take good care and see you all soon.