4 learnings for the future: Always change a running system

In times of economical challenges, we are as organizations often forced to rethink our systems and structures. At Ladenzeile, we wanted to understand how we can best meet changes in the future – and by learning from the Prosci Change Management Method, we identified four major points to help us do so. Today, we would like to share our learnings with you. 

Written by: Stefanie, Senior Business Partner, and Saskia, Director of People, Culture & Organization.

“There is nothing permanent except change,” the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once stated. And today, it’s more true than ever. Our world is changing fast, for better and for worse, and as soon as it affects our individual lives it requires us to change, adapt to the new circumstances, and find a strategy to cope and make it an integral part of our life.

Companies, in general, have to constantly change to adapt to the market. Especially in these economically challenging times, they are forced to rethink their strategy, maybe shift focus, and adjust to the new requirements. At Ladenzeile, too, we went through many changes, and changing market requirements have meant that we have had to rethink and change things and we all know how it feels for us as employees sometimes.

The company announces a new strategy, structures in departments are changing, people take over new roles and we ask ourselves: “Do we have a plan? Does that make sense? What was wrong with the former approach? What does it mean to me?”. Those questions already reveal the main problem when it comes to change – a company can never change on its own, it’s always the people in it who are key to leading successful changes. That means, full focus on people!

We wanted to gain new understanding of how to improve the way we accompany and facilitate changes within our company in the future. As part of the Diversity & Inclusion Council organized by Axel Springer, we had the opportunity to take part in a training about the Prosci Change Management Method – which turned out useful to what we were looking for. Here’s the four main points, we took back with us:

1. Answer the why

The most important question we have to answer when we initiate change is simply “why?”. Answering this question prevents us from changing only because something is not working, but because we firmly believe that the specific change will lead us to a new and better state. Only when we have defined the why we’ll be able to explain it to others and get them onboard on the change.

2. Share the responsibility

People who actively support a change, also understand the “why”. When changing, manifold aspects have to be covered – it, therefore, helps to define roles and responsibilities as clearly as possible from the start. The Prosci Change Management Model suggests four roles: 

  • The sponsor: the initiator of the change and makes sure that the purpose of the change is understood
  • The people manager: takes care of the communication with people and makes sure that their concerns are heard and answered
  • The project manager: responsible of taking care of the technical side of the change, such as setting up a new organizational structure 
  • The change practitioner: supports all the above roles, making sure that the change process is running and implemented thoroughly.

3. Pick up people where they are

Organizational change requires personal change, which can happen very differently and at very different paces. According to the model of Prosci, people go through four stages of change: First, they need to gain awareness of the need for change. Secondly, their desire to participate in the change has to be awakened. In the third step, they need to understand how to change, as well as the ability to implement the required skills and behaviors to do so. In the last step, people need reinforcement to be able to fully sustain the change and make it a habit.

While this all seems pretty clear, one important thing is to consider: if you want a change to be successful, you have to pick up people where they are and support them in taking the next step. Skipping one step is not an option – only when we give our people the time to take all steps we will be able to change successfully.

4. Go all the way

Starting off with something new is often very exciting: we are inspired, motivated, and believe in the idea we have for the future. Going the whole way until the end is sometimes the harder part – we lose track, impediments have to be removed, adjustments have to be made along the way, and keeping motivation up is not always easy. However, to really reach the future state we envisioned in the beginning (and to prevent people from being “change-tired” due to many unfinished changes), we have to go through three phases:

  • Prepare approach: define the impact, the approach, and how to implement it
  • Manage change: plan and act on what you have prepared, track performance and adapt if needed
  • Sustain outcome: review performance, activate sustainment and transfer ownership

Only if we went through all the steps, the change can become the new normal and be implemented successfully.

An extra tip (from us)

Learning about the Prosci Methodology was both interesting and useful for us. However, I would like to add an extra tip when it comes to undertaking new changes

In our experience, it’s incredibly important and helpful to not only operate within your own little bubble – but to always get a fresh perspective from the outside. With our colleagues from the Axel Springer network, we have the opportunity to reflect on ongoing projects, learn from each others’ experiences, and share valuable advice. Therefore, never shy away from sharing your challenges and getting a fresh view of things; it will make your change a success – for the company and people as well!

Stefanie Wödl, Senior Business Partner at Ladenzeile

Meet Stefanie

Stefanie is Senior Business Partner in our People, Culture and Organization team. With her background as a coach and mediator, Stefanie is a leadership expert, supporting our people across teams:

“Making sure that every Ladenzeiler has a feeling of belonging, and ensuring that they’re given an environment in which they can grow into their favorite potential – that’s what makes my work meaningful to me”

– Stefanie Wödl

Meet Saskia

Saskia is our Director of People, Culture and Organization, where she’s responsible for the entire spectrum of HR work and supports the agile transformation of the company:

Helping people find their own professional path and meaning in their daily work gives me satisfaction and motivates me to start my own working day every day.

– Saskia Weigand

Saskia Weigand, Director of People, Culture & Organization at Ladenzeile

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