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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Preparing Leaders to be Change Navigators





Tammie Plouffe is an early adopter and co-creator of Change Navigator, DlI’s latest professional resource for change leaders. I had the opportunity to speak with Tammie about her experience using the new resource and get some early feedback on best applications, target audiences, key takeaways and participant impact.

What types of client situations have you found the Change Navigator most helpful for? – NM

Change Navigator provides a solid framework for understanding the stages that are common to people undergoing significant change. It offers a new way of approaching transitions, by focusing on the emotions of people, whose buy in and support are critical to success.  I have found this tool to be very helpful for complex change situations involving leaders who are in the process or getting ready to lead a large transformation i.e. restructuring, merger, acquisition.  

Leadership development programs where content is focused on leading change is a good way to use the Change Navigator. Also, another great application is in team meetings or planned team development sessions where dealing with change is a relevant topic.

Executive coaching is another way to use this tool to assist leaders experiencing a significant change either personally or organizationally to get clarity on what they can do to effectively navigate the emotional terrain and lead a more successful change initiative.

What is the talk track you are hearing from leaders about their challenges in leading others through change?

Some of the biggest challenges I am hearing from leaders include:

Managing in an environment that is defined by uncertainty, ambiguity and change fatigue. This includes managing teams in a context of fear due to the lack of information and uncertainty. Leaders are finding themselves with the challenge of managing through an environment of rumors and speculation which can be a major distractor to the progress of change initiatives and can exacerbate existing challenges. Leaders are asking questions like “What can I do to keep the team motivated and focused through all of this ambiguity?”

Maintaining the focus of both the team and the leader. A common question I hear from leaders, “What support can I provide the team to stay team focused on being productive during this period of change? “ Leaders are challenged to keep their teams priorities and attention on factors that they can control. Too often leaders watch the productivity and moral of their teams erode as people spend emotional capital and resource distracted by the things that are out of their control.  

People will respond differently to change depending on where they are emotionally in the change process.  Change Navigator is really useful for grounding teams and leaders on where they are personally in the change process. For leaders especially it helps to clarify and identify strategies they can use to move their teams forward effectively and successfully.  

Lack of Control. Leaders are expressing frustration that it is challenging to plan or position for the unknown. Often, they are required to lead teams and implement a change that they themselves did not choose and may have their own feelings about.

Building Optimism and Hope for the Future. Leaders are working with the complexity of implementing change initiatives while doing day to day work and dealing with people’s emotions about change. They are tasked with the challenge of rallying people around a compelling vision and helping their teams understand and buy into the benefits of the change.

What is inspiring leaders about leading change in today’s environment?

Some common themes I am hearing from leaders that I work with are:
The opportunity to innovate their organizations to perform better

The opportunity to be part of building something new and exciting in the organizations they serve

Making a positive difference for the people and teams they lead.

Building new skills and capabilities towards future results.

Winning - embracing challenges and the energy (and adrenalin rush!) that can bring when successful.

Why is change leadership important?

It balances change management activities of planning etc. and is a key ingredient to making change stick. Change leadership is the work leaders do to enlist people’s hearts and minds in a change effort and engage them to work in new ways in order to get better, and more meaningful results.

What kinds of impacts does working with the Change Navigator have on people? What value do leaders acknowledge they get from working with the Change Navigator?

A recent client who had his leadership team do the Change Navigator workshop while they were in the midst of splitting up their company into two separate businesses said that the CN helped them understand the emotional part of making transitions and this insight helped build their personal resilience as well as have increased empathy for the people they were leading who were finding the change very challenging.

What do you most admire about leaders who are effective at leading and navigating change? What are you noticing about leaders who are very effective at leading change?  

The thing I admire most is their ability to stay positive and optimistic while acknowledging that change is tough work. I also believe that the most effective change leaders are those that are optimistic and empathic, they create hope and inspire confidence. They stay involved in the change effort and bring people along. So often leaders get through their own response to change and forget that the rest of the organization may be going through it at a different pace than they are or experiencing a different impact.


What advice do you have for other consultants/ trainers working with the Change Navigator?

I have found that as I work with the CN, I continue to learn more about navigating transitions both personally and through others. It has individual, team and organizational application. I would encourage other consultants to continue stay in the learning process and resist the temptation to be the expert. I have also found sharing stories about transitions to be helpful to bring the model to life and resonate.   

What insights and learnings have you had from working with this product?

How to navigate change better and with greater insight. I am able to get clearer faster about what stage of transition I am navigating and what I can do to help myself or be of service to another.  


Learn more about the New Change Navigator


Tammie Plouffe is a professional Organizational Development consultant. She is managing partner of Innovative Pathways and has assisted many large and mid-sized corporations in developing their leadership and organizations to embrace challenges. Plouffe holds a Master of Science, Organizational Development from Pepperdine University, California and a B.A. in Psychology from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two sons.  

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