The 8-Step Process for Leading Change by John Kotter

Kotter (1995) suggested an eight-step model used for effective change management. The fundamentals of the model can be used to improve operational and organizational performance of a company. Here are the 8 steps of leading change as suggested by Phillip Kotter.

Step 1: Create Urgency

Change cannot be initiated if there is no sense of urgency to do so. The company’s leaders should be the first to realize the need for change and communicate it to other members of the organisation. In order to communicate the need for change to other people effectively, the leaders should connect with the deep values of the workforce in order to win their trust and convince them to accept and implement the changes required. Leaders should also communicate the challenges that might be faced in the change management process.

Step 2: Create a Guiding Coalition

A successful change initiative needs to be undertaken in a team. Leaders should develop a coalition with other people in the organisation to form a change implementation team (Kotter, 1995). The team should be made up of individuals with relevant knowledge, skills and experience of guest service operations. They should also have power and authority to initiate the suggested changes in the organisation. Leadership skills are also important for the guiding coalition.

Step 3: Develop a Vision

Once the team required to implement the changes has been formed, it is necessary to create a vision that will direct the coalition and enhance coordination of activities within the team. The vision should be imaginable in order to create a clear picture of where the change is taking the organisation. It should also be desirable, feasible, flexible, and focused.

Step 4: Communicate the vision

Kottler (1995) suggests that most organisations fail to communicate the vision of their organisations effectively. He says that using a memo to be read by the CEO is not enough to communicate the vision. Change is a continuous process, so leaders should constantly remind their people about it. Various channels should be used to communicate the changes, e.g. emails, coffee break conversations, presentations, etc. Leaders of change should use these various channels to constantly remind the company’s employees about the need to treat guests courteously and with respect. Everyone should be told about the importance of improving customer services in the company. The vision should be simple and clear in order to enhance an effective communication to stakeholders.

Step 5: Empower people and remove impediments

Members of the organisation who buy in to the vision of improving guest service delivery operations should be empowered to deal with and tackle all barriers that may prevent the successful implementation of the change. Leaders should be empowered to deliver the change (Kotter, 1995). Members of the organization should also be empowered through increase of remunerations and compensation. Rewarding people through that manner will motivate them to work towards the achievement of the vision of change. All barriers including individuals who resist change should be eliminated.

Step 6: Generate short-term objectives

One of the short term objectives that can be generated in InterContinental Hotels Group is to reduce the average time spent attending to one guest by 40% within the next 2 years. This and other objectives that may seem relevant to the vision of change should be identified by the coalition team. The purpose of these objectives is to create short-term improvement spirit in the coalition. These objectives should be SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reliable and Time-bound.

Step 7: Build on the Change Initiative

In this step, momentum of change should be built on because as the change process progresses, it is likely to end in further resistance which may cause loss of momentum that had been developed since the change process started (Kotter, 1995). Change processes including fast handling of customer requests, use of courtesy in communication, use of technology in customer service and increased training programs should be aligned to the organisation’s culture in order to make them to become part of the organisation’s culture. In this step, the leaders of change should analyse the objectives of the change to determine which ones have been achieved and which areas still need improvements. New objectives should also be developed to build on momentum. At this point, the change management team should also focus on continuous improvement.

Step 8: Incorporate Cultural Changes

Culture refers to the shared values and behavioural norms of an organisation (Kotter, 1995). Employees should develop the habit of attending to customers with courtesy and respect as part of the organisation’s culture. Furthermore, the use of and investment in advanced technology in customer service operations should also be part of the company’s culture. However, the company’s culture comes last when the change has gained momentum and has been accepted by most people in the company

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