Some wisdom from the Kotter change model
With so much change happening for educators across Aotearoa, we wanted to look at the Kotter 8-step change model. Specifically, the step that encourages communicating the vision for change.
Change can be frustrating for those at the coal face, particularly when they are bearing the brunt of the work but are not 100% clear on why it’s happening and what the end goal is. For ICT leaders—or leaders of any kind—communicating the reason and the dream is crucial to getting the team on board. As Simon Sinek says, “Start with WHY.”
We at Think e-Learning are also fans of celebrating the small wins, something that is also touched upon later in the 8 steps. A clear vision and explicit acknowledgement of successes, small or large, can make a team feel supported and seen.
Convey the vision
In the 3rd step of John Kotter’s model for leading change, the vision for change is created. It is clarified and summarised. In the 4th step, it is communicated to those who need to hear it.
One of the most important concepts here is that the vision shouldn’t just be mentioned in a staff meeting once. It can be woven into any discussion where it is relevant, recapped in as many meetings as possible, and included in email communications. In addition, leaders should be leading by example.
Kotter’s model reminds change drivers to talk about the vision every chance they get, not just about the work that is being done to change. Knowing the goal is crucial. It can also be embedded as a barometer in performance reviews, training, and other aspects of professional development.
It’s worth noting that the first two steps in Kotter’s model, done well, will form a strong foundation for communicating your vision. It should be created in a way that honours all voices and interested parties—not necessarily through consensus but with strong representation. This should consist of key and influential people in the organisation and also relevant advisors. When you convey the vision to your team, it should be made clear WHO it came from and HOW it was created. We’ll explore this further in a later blog post—stay tuned!
Celebrate the small things
Recognising little successes will encourage progress, boost morale amongst the team, and also facilitate the spread of good ideas and good practices. For leaders, it’s a very simple way to keep the team focused on—and excited about—the vision.
Here are some ways you can celebrate small wins, ranging from casual and low-key to more formal.
Mention the win in person. Stop them in the hallway or bring it up next time you see them. A private acknowledgement of a job well done can encourage kaiako more than you might realise.
Mention something great a team member did during a briefing or meeting. This can be as simple as “Ari tried this with his class and it worked well. Great job Ari!” Not only will Ari feel acknowledged, but others may be inspired to try the same activity.
If you really want to highlight an achievement or success, big or small, send out an email to your team outlining what the win was, how it is contributing to the vision, and complimenting the team member in question.
Feature the win in a newsletter or other communication to parents, celebrating that team member and their idea or success more publicly. Use them as an example!
WHAT should you be celebrating? Just about anything. If you are in the process of change, such as moving towards a hybrid learning model, you may choose to highlight the wins that move your team in that direction—for example, versatile learning content, the discovery of a fantastic new tool that can be used both in-person and remotely, a cool collaborative activity that they designed, arranging a device for a child that needs it.
Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu. Even the small things are important.]
Get in touch with Think e-Learning to find out more about how we can help with professional development for ICT leaders and support your change journey.