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Four ways to make sure your change program is a success

Published 7 August 2023 in Management • 4 min read

When it comes to change, how do you prepare employees before taking the plunge? Nadine Crauwels, President of Sandvik Machining Solutions and Executive Vice President at Sandvik AB, takes a deep dive into the techniques behind successful change management.

Within an organization, it’s crucial that those leading the change also have the skills and the ownership to drive the change process forward. And if you want to grow your company, gain market share, and move into new areas of business, then you need to push your boundaries. The impetus for change can come from different directions, but wherever it comes from change is difficult. It is a process that has become harder and harder to manage.

When people understand why the change is happening and what they are doing, you create a ripple effect and people go with it. But if that doesn’t happen, then organizations have a problem and people will not come into the water with you. As I often say when taking people through a new challenge, if you want to go for a swim, you’re going to get wet.

When I started in business, most people teams generally had targets for this year and next year. The furthest ahead planning tended to go was five years. Nowadays, when you consider areas like sustainability, the time horizon is much longer. So, what do you need to do?

Simplify the picture

To try and get people to understand any kind of business transformation you need to simplify the picture. The three words you need to have answers to are “why”, “how” and “what”.

If you can answer why you are going ahead with a strategic change, a large number of people will at least open the door to further discussion. Whether they understand it or want to become engaged is another story, but explaining the why is always the first step.

The next step is how. By explaining this, you can create not just understanding and interest but also engagement in the project. Finally, the what depends a great deal on the company, the setting, and how many people need to be involved – clear is that chance can never be successful without the drive coming from many.

Get ready

Not every part of the organization is as ready as other parts, so timing and readiness should all be looked at before you start any kind of change process. When explaining the why it is always good to link up the company and its customers perspectives. Another important consideration is how much pre-work you need to do and how rapidly you will be able to roll out change across an organization.

Within Sandvik, we have a decentralized approach to decision-making. The more decentralized you are, the easier it is for people to take ownership of decisions themselves. As managers, this has forced us to look carefully at risk mitigation. Asking questions like this helps you with a great deal of scenario planning, so we asked ourselves questions about for instance the communications plans and whether we really had taken all the stakeholder groups into consideration.

Engage your staff in the process itself

Whether something is the right decision is a difficult question for many people to answer.

It becomes even more of a challenge when you include issues like digitalization and sustainability. Even if you are an expert in the field, there are so many options to weigh up, so it can often help to explain the pros and cons of each option. People will then buy into it because they’re involved and part of the process – but more to the point, they will start to appreciate the different points of view. As an experience, this is far more engaging and valuable for employees as they can see what is really important to the company.

Listen to those who are critical

People who are critical of a change process from the beginning should have a voice and be listened to. There is usually a reason why they have responded the way that they have, so it is useful to understand their point of view. If they are bringing up these issues, there are probably others within the organization who think like that as well, so it is incredibly helpful for managers to understand why they have taken that position and think of how their concerns can be answered helping them to move forward. For the manager themselves, these discussions can clarify whether the organization has communicated its change plans in the best manner. It’s always good to listen.


Nadine Crauwels

President of Sandvik Machining Solutions and Executive Vice President at Sandvik AB

Nadine Crauwels is President of Sandvik Machining Solutions and Executive Vice President at Sandvik AB. She joined Sandvik Coromant in 2000 as a Sales Engineer responsible for solid carbide in Benelux and built her career in sales. Appointed Chief Executive in 2017, she led the digital and sustainable transformation of the business. She has been at the helm of Sandvik Machining Solutions since 2020. She completed the Sandvik Senior Management Program at IMD in 2010.  


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