Facilitating Organizational Change from Within

At Action Pact our philosophy of change focuses on developing leaders who inspire a vision, listen to others and step out of traditional roles and patterns. We specialize in creating learning organizations. In order to do this we help create—and help our clients learn to create—a climate for learning. An important element of that is utilizing different learning strengths. Some of us are visual learners, others are auditory learners and others are kinesthetic learners.

One of the ways Action Pact assists its clients with developing new leaders and creating a learning climate is through the structure of a culture change Steering Team. This Steering Team works with an Action Pact consultant as it grows new skills and processes, including commissioning action teams with specific goals and objectives.

A good example of creating an environment to learn new skills is the learning session that was recently developed by the High Involvement action team at Passavant Retirement Community, one of our clients in Zelienople, PA. In the session they were to cover the stages of change (from Traveling Through White Water: A Guide for Organizational Change®Booklet), and explore how we all move through these stages differently. It is common for people dealing with change to experience the following stages:

  • Resistance
  • Confusion
  • Integration
  • Commitment

Open, honest conversation is a helpful approach to move through any of the stages.

In order to help people feel the stages of change, and to facilitate conversation, the action team asked participants of the learning session to move to a place in the room labeled with one of the stages. If you were feeling you were in the stage of confusion, for example, you would go to that place in the room. It was really exciting to see how:

  1. People were honest about where they chose to go.
  2. They then had others to talk with about how they were feeling and what they were experiencing.

The team then asked each group to share with each other what they needed in order to move to the next stage. For example, what did they need to know to move from confusion to integration? Each stage group then shared to the whole group a list of what they came up with in that discussion. The lists included things like:

  • What type of cross-training would be happening?
  • How do action teams work?
  • When were residents going to be involved?

By utilizing adult learning theory and engaging staff in this kinesthetic learning session, the High Involvement action team not only achieved the goal of sharing knowledge about the stages of change, but accomplished several other things as well. Spending time as a group exploring these stages helped grow communication skills and gave leaders a chance to listen and understand staff’s personal experiences of change. The outcomes of this exercise gave the Steering Team vital information to help the members think through how to prioritize their actions and work and effectively move forward on their culture change journey.

Megan Hannan, MS, is an Executive Leader at Action Pact and has provided leadership in long-term care for over 25 years. Megan developed Action Pact’s signature train the trainer program, PersonFirst®. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Pioneer Network.

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