17. June 2020

10 Steps to Successful Change Management

By Riccardo Giacometti

I’m excited about change. In this time of change, we as leaders and the holders of the status quo are being put to the test. Success will come to those who can adapt the fastest and most effectively to the new needs of the market.

Change can be so beautiful. Only now it comes faster than many could have foreseen or can handle. How do you manage to get change into the heads and hearts of your employees? What is the secret behind it? This article shows you the way to a successful change process.

Approach the change process systematically

A little theory can’t hurt, but let’s not overdo it. If you want to read up on different change management models, you can do so here.

Of all the models, I find Kotter’s step-by-step plan the most helpful. This 10-steps plan is based on this. You can individually design your change process on this basis.  

10 steps to change success

  1. Employees recognize that the change is necessary.
  2. A team, representative of all levels from employee to manager , takes the lead.
  3. The leadership team identifies and collaborates with supporters in the departments concerned to develop a vision and strategy.
  4. The team explains the vision and strategy to those affected and promotes it. The change communication must be two-way!
  5. The team creates a framework to implement the change on a broad basis (removing obstacles, restructuring the organization, defining guidelines / processes, empowering employees, addressing resistance, creating communication channels and networking, clarifying responsibilities, and establishing feedback processes).
  6. Management frees up capacity among the employees involved to enable them to implement the change initiative. The change should not result in an excessive workload, which I’ve experienced myself. During a major change process, the workload on all departments increased significantly, because all adjustments and changes had to be implemented alongside daily business. Often this cannot be easily avoided, but under such conditions the initial motivation soon fades. Here it is important to keep an eye on the team and to offer support.
  7. The team sets goals that are rewarding and motivating, and which are celebrated as successes when achieved. Short, stand-up meetings provide new momentum and impulses to refine goals and procedures.
  8. Employees are involved in the change process through their own activities, which are preferably self-selected. Participation is important! And appropriate praise too, of course.
  9. Tangible successes strengthen the understanding of the change and the motivation to change.
  10. Changes are incorporated into the company culture and further refined.

New way of working + change management = learning organisation

The methodology outlined above has proved to be effective. However, it is mostly practiced as a top-down approach. Let’s be honest: Although I started with “The employees recognize that the change is necessary” and in subsequent points I spoke mostly of “the team”, perhaps you understood the process this way at first: The bosses call the shots and the employees follow suit.

How about doing it the other way around? Often it is the employees who have the best ideas. No wonder, since they are at the source, right in the middle of the operational processes. They experience first hand what works and what doesn’t.

Tapping into potential

Tap into this potential and you will have less trouble getting employees on board. That’s why I also mentioned that communication must be two-way and not just top-down (apart from the obligatory success messages that are fed back to management).

A bottom-up, learning organization and new work are facets of the same concept: empowering employees so that they take the initiative and commit to the good of the company, because it is also for their own good.

The path to a learning organization

Your credo in change management should be: as much bottom-up as possible, as little top-down as necessary.

  • Encourage your people to realize their potential. Give them opportunities to learn and take initiative.
  • In new processes, interdisciplinary teams play a major role. Their members acquire new skills and look beyond their own responsibilities. In this way they develop understanding for each other and for the concerns of the organization, and they devise creative new approaches.
  • Individual learning leads to the learning of the entire organization. This new learning culture should be anchored in the corporate culture. Perhaps you will manage to transfer it to customers, suppliers and others. Then everyone will benefit!
  • Change loses its threatening nature in learning organizations, because they are permanently transforming themselves, developing new solutions and methods flexibly and playfully.

In a digitalized world, which is changing faster than ever before, it is an enormous competitive advantage if you can transform your company into a learning organization.

Retain employees instead of boring them to death

By the way, you will be able to keep your valuable skilled workers longer. Employees commit themselves emotionally to a company that they are allowed to help shape. Especially in crisis situations, managers and executives have the opportunity to bind employees to themselves and the company. 

Communication is decisive for war 

Effective communication is half the battle, say many change management experts. Today, this can and should not only happen in meetings or via video conferencing. Digital chat programs enable networked communication between all stakeholders, and can also be used in a fun and informal manner as appropriate.

But the best information doesn’t have to be sent out first, because it’s already there. 


The ten-step model for successful change initiatives makes your change plans easier to achieve. It works best if you empower your employees to be drivers of change. In this way you create a learning organization that welcomes change and integrates it into its corporate culture.