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3 powerful change management questions to ask leaders

By Tiina Raekallio on Feb 1, 2018 10:15:00 AM , updated on Sep 29, 2021

Organizations today need to stay ready for change and continuously transform their ways of working. For any organization to change and develop, the people within that organization need to collaborate with each other. This calls for inspiration and good management, which are at the core of my change management work with customers.

It’s difficult to imagine a more rewarding job than encouraging others to embrace change and learn something new. I know I have succeeded when my customers make great strides toward creating efficient, fun, and inspiring workplace communities.

The most important aspect of my work is to ask leaders and managers the right change management questions. By asking questions, you can prepare the workplace community for change. Questions help build an environment of interaction where all participants have the courage to be themselves, any and all issues are addressed, and everyone understands what the change means.

Questions help build an environment of interaction where all participants have the courage to be themselves.

To help you drive change forward in organizations, I’m sharing the three most powerful change management questions to ask leaders.  

What would help you the most right now? 

The most important question to ask leaders during a change process is simple: “What would help you the most right now?” 

This question usually gets things going. You’ll hear how the organization is doing, learn about its strengths and weaknesses, and see where exactly they need help. In the best case scenario, I’m asked to come along on a journey with them to find new ways to promote change. 

I always ask follow-up questions until I can clearly see what aspects of their work processes can be improved through digitalization. Some follow-up questions you can ask include:

  • What’s your current situation, and where do you want to go? 
  • What will success look like after a change initiative is complete? 
  • Why is the change so important? 
  • What are the barriers to a successful change implementation?
  • Who might feel threatened by the change? 
  • Who are supporters of the change? 

Is your workforce willing to help? 

For change to be successful, every member of the organization must go in the same direction, working toward a common goal. For many leaders, this is the hardest part of change. They don’t know how to involve and inspire people.  

Another good question comes in handy here, which leaders must pose to every member of the organization: “Would you like to help?”

If a supervisor directly asks an employee for help, the employee must first decide whether they commit to the goals and then think about their role in achieving those goals. 

Changes can be implemented successfully only if each member of the organization relates to the common goals and feels that they have been heard and understood. This requires a shift in the company mindset, which moves away from merely pushing employees towards change with external factors but rather inspires them by helping them understand the purpose of their work and change processes. 

Changes can be implemented successfully only if each member of the organization relates to the common goals and feels that they have been heard and understood.

It's crucial to spend some time with the "why" in organizational development initiatives. Instead of having one all-encompassing "why," help people find their own drivers for change. By allowing people to focus on the drivers that matter most to them, you can expect better commitment and enthusiasm from them. 

How can you listen to everyone?

One of the most challenging questions for leaders to answer is: “How can I possibly listen to everyone?”

This question relates to how leaders will drive change forward. Change can’t be managed, but it can—and should—be facilitated. In organizations, all leaders should be facilitators. Instead of providing ready-made results, true transformation happens when people are having difficult and honest conversations and feel like they are part of the process. When this happens, organizations are able to build resilience and a collective consciousness. This is the core of the facilitation mindset—know that you don’t have all the answers and maybe the answers don’t exist yet and need to be co-created.

True transformation happens when people are having difficult and honest conversations and feel like they are part of the process.

A change cannot be implemented successfully if only the loudest have a say and everyone else stays silent. Everyone has the right to take part. All voices should get a seat at the table. 

You’ll want to make sure everyone in the organization feels understood and appreciated. A skilled facilitator can facilitate a dialogue between hundreds if not thousands of people, and help them solve complex problems together. 

In my work, every week I can see for myself that each and every employee can be heard if the process is skillfully digitalized. After that, it’s easy to involve people and collect feedback and comments. When I introduce my customers to an effective digital way to promote change, I help them succeed in their core operations.

Change takes place insight by insight. This can mean realizing that we don’t need pointless weekly meetings or endless emails to collect feedback. Everyone can express their opinion and show their priorities on a digital platform by giving a thumbs-up or a star rating, for example. When everyone has used their three thumbs-ups, it’s easy to see which aspect of change has received the most support and continue from there.

In the end, success is simple: the more direct the route, the more quickly we will reach our destination. Day-to-day work will run more smoothly, and we will be more productive.


For more organizational development tips to help you manage complex change initiatives, download our free eBook: How to Effectively Implement Organizational Change in a Digital Environment.

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