As the saying goes… ‘the only constant, is change.’
Today successful businesses constantly monitor their ever evolving environment and these business leaders strategize to ensure they take opportunities as they present. These businesses are successful because they embrace change. However, whether it be a change in structure, vision, product, process, culture; it is how a change is implemented that is just as critical as the change itself. Essentially the hours put into strategic decision making can all be wasted if the change isn’t implemented effectively and key to this is actively managing the human element of change. In one way or another change will affect people and most find the process of change unsettling, as it takes individuals outside of their comfort zone. So what are a few basic strategies to consider when undertaking change?
- Consider the scale of the change
Take a step back and consider the scale of the change and the impact it will have. Is it transformational and complex, or limited in scope and impact? Then consider this in relation to the size of the organisation. Never underestimate the impact that small change will have on people, however it is worth being pragmatic in considering the range and investment in generating strategies and the outcomes you are hoping to acheive.
- Outline the ‘need’ for change and communicate
This critical first step is pivotal to ensuring people understand the real need for change and involves transparently communicating this message so that people can confront reality and understand what the business is hoping to achieve. A useful process is to create a shared vision statement that will assist align leaders and provide direction.
- Bring together the leadership team
The leadership team need to present a united front. This helps drive the aligned vision across the business and ensures the leadership team model the behaviour that is desired.
- Appoint a change leader
When everyone is responsible for change, then nobody is responsible for change. Appoint a change leader who owns the project. It creates a central point of contact, communication funnel and accountability.
- Change champions
Change champions are really useful to implement across every level of an organisation. They are employees engaged with the process and have contributed to implementation planning using their on the job expertise. They are an advocate for the change on the ground and can help uncover issues early to keep the project on track.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communication cannot be underestimated. From outlining the case at the beginning to documenting progress, reinforcing key messages and celebrating appropriate milestones along the way, it enables the process to stay front of mind and demonstrates continued internal commitment. Communication should be consistent and planned, which reduces the risk of employees disengaging from the process through lack of information. It is also essential to listen. A great tool to allow employees the opportunity to feedback is a pulse survey. They are great to specifically monitor the emotional response to change and to track the effectiveness of how change is managed.
- Be flexible
Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Listen to the feedback of people on the ground and be flexible as you move through the process. This will increase the chance of success and provide opportunity to uncover and deal with issues as they arise.
Evaluate both the process and the outcome and where possible and appropriate, celebrate the successes with your team.