Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Part 2: Re-inventing your career using Change Management Best Practices – Energizing the Plan
November 20, 2009, 6:34 pm
Filed under: - Professional Development | Tags:

Okay, we understand the emotional roller coaster of change (Part 1) and now we need a plan for our transformational change – our next career transition. We need to get energized and organized.

What are the best practices recommended in Change Management for pulling it altogether? John Kotter, Harvard Business School professor and author is widely regarded a thought leader in how to ‘do’ change. In “Leading Change” he promotes 8 principles. If we apply them to our personal career transformation it might look like this – we need to:

1. Establish a Sense Of Urgency 

  • Understand our timeline and commit to deadlines

2. Create the Guiding Coalition 

  • Assemble our support team, e.g. family members, professional career coaches, mentors

3. Develop a Vision and Strategy 

  • Know what we want and what it will take to get there, e.g. training, professional association memberships, etc

4. Communicate the Change Vision 

  • Share our vision with those who can help us get there, network
  • Create a communication plan and execute it, e.g. resumes, cover letters, etc.

5. Empower Broad-based Action 

  • Begin with small steps and build momentum, e.g. register on job boards and update / build your profile every week 
  • Get rid of obstacles, e.g. assign time in our week perhaps get up an hour earlier each day 
  • Encourage ourselves (self talk) to take some risks, try some activities such as professional association events, that might be outside our norm

6. Generate Short-term Wins 

  • Identify what milestones will look like, e.g. completing the resume, the first interview, the first networking referral, etc.
  • Celebrate them, acknowledge progress successes
  • Send updates and thank you’s to people who contributed to those successes

7. Consolidate Gains and Producing More Change 

  • At each new plateau, following each milestone, review progress and expand the plan 
  • Reinvigorate the process by considering new or different approaches, initiatives, events, etc.

8. Anchor New Approaches in the Culture

  • Once in our new position, we need to strengthen our beach head. We need to continue to develop expertise and to prepare for the next transition
  • Commit to participating in professional development activities once a month, join a committee or Special Interest Group, volunteer for a speaking engagement on a hot topic

One of the elements of change that most intimidates us is loss of control – ‘being changed’ as opposed to managing the change ourselves.  So re-gaining control in such situations requires contingency and ‘Plan B’ planning.  In this case, we can:

  • Contingency Plan: look at what organizations are doing and consider the same, i.e. cut back on discretionary spending, put some cash in liquid investments in case your income is suddenly cut off or reduced.  The more time you can buy, the more control and therefore the more options you have.  Conventional wisdom used to suggest 3 months for middle management and up to 1 year for senior management, however in this economy, you might prepare for a longer stretch.
  • Build your Plan B: create a concurrent path, i.e. while continuing in the current job begin the job hunt process.  Create a resume, get feedback from trusted advisors, begin discreetly ‘floating’ the word that you are looking, research and evaluate your options, monitor job boards and network, network, network.  Continue on this concurrent path while monitoring the status of your current job and either accelerate or decelerate your pace depending on your judgment of the current situation.

What’s next? Well, if you are like me perhaps procrastination – but that’s not all. Whether you call it procrastination, resistance, fear, intimidation or just endurance, the fact is that Change Management best practices have some insights into how to overcome the hurdles. We will look at these in Part 3.

Has this helped you plan your change journey? In projects, leading and managing people through change is a key success factor for executional effectiveness. In organizations, Change Management is a powerful differentiator and strategic imperative.

Symphini Change Management Inc. specializes in transforming businesses by leveraging people, process and technology through change. Implementing change? Building Change Capability? Give us a call 416 845-4030 or email


(1) “Leading Change”, John P. Kotter, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA, 1996  

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