Successful modern legal professionals know how to champion and communicate change using experience, tools, and methodology. 

Elevate recently participated in a thought leadership session as part of the In-house Focus Leaders of Legal series. Kimberly DeVico, Managing Director, Consulting at Elevate, and Monica Andrews, VP, Global Legal Operations at Equinix, discussed change management and persuasive skills used in their organizations as well as best practices and key concepts for effective leadership to influence change.

Drawing on the robust leadership and operational toolkit she has acquired throughout her career, Monica shared several leadership principles applicable to a broad range of business areas:

Leadership Principles

  • "Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself"
    • As a leader, be self-aware about how you present yourself and convey engagement in a project involving change
  • "Choose You; Everyone Else Is Already Taken"
    • Authenticity builds trust, and trust is essential for change management -- so advocate for what you believe in
  • "Drive It Like You Stole It"
    • It is difficult to build a change management program on a shaky foundation, so be 100% fully committed and all in
  • "Fake It Till You Make It"
    • Get comfortable with leading amid ambiguity -- this is a critical aspect of successful leadership
  • Manage Work and Lead People
    • Change is a lot about "telling the story" -- so don’t lose sight of the story by focusing too heavily on status reports and project plans
    • Bring everyone along: identify stakeholders and ensure their buy-in on key initiatives from the start

Monica also emphasized the importance of "going slow to go fast," as it pays to build a foundation that fosters an environment where people feel comfortable, understand what is happening, and appreciate the mission.

Another topic was the importance of having a "change mindset," as increases in the speed of change are making the management of change more essential than ever before. Among the tips shared for bringing a change mindset to your company, team, or initiative included:

Integrate a Change Management Program From the Start

  • Prepare for the change
  • Develop a change mindset across the department
  • Prepare for resistance and feedback on "how things are usually done"

Have Strong and Visible Sponsorship

  • Change must be driven and modelled from the top; having visible sponsorship and executive buy-in is essential to achieving adoption of the change

Train Change Champions

  • Familiarise a select group of "key influencers" as to the changes at hand and train them to be coaches for their colleagues

Practice From a Methodology 

  • Embrace a methodology, such as the Prosci ADKAR Model
  • Measure adoption, utilization, proficiency, and overall change success

Begin Resistance Management Planning Early

  • Be proactive; prepare for resistance instead of waiting for it to occur
  • Assess change readiness

There was also discussion of best practices for success, including:

Begin with the End in Mind

  • Draft the success criteria; define objectives and goals
  • Have the discipline to resist jumping in until you can clearly articulate where you are going, what you are trying to achieve, and the clear asks of the people involved

  • Identify, Train, and Coach the Change Sponsor(s)
    • Make sure executive sponsors understand the goal and aims of the change
  • Assign Dedicated Change Management Resources
    • It’s a mistake to under-resource change management
    • Use resources specifically skilled in change management
  • Foster Employee Engagement and Participation
    • Communicate early and often; recognize employees' commitment to and transition through the change
    • Identify impacted groups and promote the value proposition from the changes ("what’s in it for me?")
    • Make it fun! Look for ways to generate excitement, such as contests and trivia games
    • Celebrate successes and achievement of milestones
  • Have a Structured Change Management Approach
    • Train the team on the change management approach/model so everyone speaks a common language
    • Set expectations of the people being brought in and ensure people are on the same page
    • Scale your approach as appropriate and use it in future projects
  • Be Transparent: Share Frequent and Open Communication
    • Cadence, consistency, and transparency are critical to change
    • Use different mediums, multiple communications channels, and the right methods at the right time
  • Manage Resistance
    • Think ahead to proactively plan and mitigate
    • Remember, not everyone moves together at the same time and pace – meet individuals where they are and address their particular needs
  • Ensure Integration and Engagement with Project Management
    • Identify steps and actions in the change management plan and integrate them into the project plan
    • Communicate key milestones at the right time so people can absorb and understand the process

If you would like to find out more information on managing change or have any questions, please get in touch with us.