It’s the first week of our four-week conversation about the importance of influencers in organizational change management. Some highlights:

  • Social influence is key in generating behavioral change
  • Influencers reach significantly more employees than top management
  • Identify your hidden influencers who are the real drivers of change and communication

Organizational change has always been difficult to achieve and even more difficult to manage. There are a plethora of examples demonstrating the failure of many organizational change initiatives. The increasingly complex operating environment, owing to the increased number of external influences and increasingly competitive environment as well as the impact of digitalisation requires companies to make swift changes to sustain and survive against threats. Therefore, change is more frequent and more necessary in today’s turbulent business environment.

Change has the best chance of succeeding when organizations’ focus on addressing behaviours and culture, the psychological aspects of change. This is important, as the most critical factor affecting change is employee resistance. Therefore, the key to achieving a successful change is redefining the focus “the new organizational focus is behaviour not processes and systems; those are a given …”.

To understand the behavior in an organization, time needs to be taken to observe the current situation, what is really going on? for example behaviors and values spread in networks, this is part of a more informal influence, changing and challenging values and behaviors is all part of change management, a social influence is key in generating behavioral change. This is where knowledge of your organizational networks is important.

Winning over those employees who are most skeptical of any change is imperative, in order to do this, it is necessary to identify the change leaders. These are people who have great influence over others but are not always members of a management team, or holding positions of authority. These are people who have respect from other employees, the people other employees look to for ideas, they are the people that who others go to for advice, these individuals can have an influence on morale, they can be instrumental in communicating messages across an organization and they are key to gaining the support of others. IF you can identify who these leaders are, who these influencers are, then you can utilise their energy, enthusiasm, their connections and their ability to bring others along with them. This influence can increase the organization’s ability to enact successful change. These influencers can increase the chance of success of any change, as the impact on change comes from the influence of employees, not the efficiency and effectiveness of processes or systems.

Knowing your network, mapping your network is important, understanding who the most influential members are is important “influencers reach significantly more employees than top management”. These influencers are not necessarily who you think they are, time should be taken to identify the networks in your organization, through observing group dynamics, identifying who has more peer respect? for example, who has the ear of their colleague?

“Who is actually leading the flock? Is there some kind of hidden influencer within the group or is it always the same who is in front?”

If you can identify these and their networks, you can utilise them to great effect, they can be the sounding board for concerns, the communicators for strategy, they can be empowered to drive the change forward and with them they can bring along those in their network. Influencers are key to mobilIsing change. Influencers have the confidence of their networks, these infleuncers just need to be identified, encouraged, supported in the role as part of the change process, in effect they become change agents, advocating the message. They are trusted by their peers and therefore their message is respected, trusted and ultimately followed. In order to make the influencers role possible, empowering them, communicating with them effectively and efficiently can enhance the likelihood of any change being embraced.

Bringing employees along, making them feel empowered is imperative. Allow the influencers to tell the story of why a change is required and communicate what the end objectives is, this can develop an emotional connection, can stimulate interest and the behaviour and actions of influences is then mimicked by the network. If you can convince the influencer that the change is right, they go on to tell a story that helps the organization enact successful change. Influencers elected by their peers are more committed, motivated and successful, they are more effective as catalysts for implementing change.

Do you know who your true influencers are? Do you know who have the greatest impact on change initiatives? Are you ready to find out? We are looking forward to hearing from you! Drop us a comment! LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or feel free to reach out to us directly via info@ogmapper.com.

Next week, we will still talking about influencer involvement when YOUR thoughts and experiences will be in the spotlight.