4. Forming a change team


Staff affected by change: To help shape the direction of the organisation, look for opportunities to involve yourself in change projects - in particular when the change affects you.

Stronger together: Depending on the size of the change, it may be necessary (and helpful) to create a dedicated change team. If you are seen to be the sole instigator of the change, there is a danger that it will be perceived as personality driven. Furthermore, you alone may not be able to consider everything. For larger or contentious changes, creating a strong coalition of people to sponsor, engage, role model and support others through the change is vital. This can be made up of people in your own team, as well as those from outside your team who have something to offer – be it in terms of influence, contacts, reputation, strategic input or even a challenging attitude! On this final point, constructive challenge is often extremely useful for the development of a new way of working. If people in your change team feel that certain things need addressing, then those outside the team will be sure to as well.

You may also want to include some key stakeholders in your change team – including those who will be affected by the change. Not only will they have influence where you may not, they can help you to address problems that you may not have seen from your more limited perspective. Your change team will help you shape the change as it unfolds, along with the accompanying communications, so as to successfully deliver on the real need.
This change team should be treated as a stand-alone team in its own right. The team will need its own terms of reference, its own dedicated meeting and communication structure, and maybe even its own team-building activities to harness the differences in personality, strengths and viewpoints. Overall, as with all teams, the more diverse you can make this team the better.

A guiding coalition: John Kotter's four key characteristics:

John Kotter argues that any change team – or 'guiding coalition' as he calls it – should include the following four characteristics,  which you may want to consider if forming your own team:

- Position power: key players in terms of power and influence.

- Expertise power: a variety of different points of view, knowledge and experience.

- Credibility: people with influence and reputation so people will take notice.

- Leadership: Does the team have enough leadership capability to help you drive the change forward? Kotter argues that your team will need both managerial (doing things right) and leadership (doing the right things) skills.

As well as these characteristics and considerations, remember that the same principles apply to this change team as any other well-functioning team. You need to build up an atmosphere and culture of trust and respect, and to ensure you clearly identify and get everyone to work towards the common goal(s). In short, you must all want the same thing.