In modern business, change happens at a rate that is arguably unprecedented. So when it comes to making decisions, prolonged deliberation can prove disastrous. But change for the sake of change is just as ill-advised as resisting change. Change must be embraced so that the process is managed with enthusiasm and expertise.
This is where change management strategies come into play. Every company and organization will need to tailor there strategies to fit their plans and beliefs, but below I detail guiding principles and tips that should be a part of every new transition. Get more professional advice from this change management course that teaches you how to use software to encourage solid workflow practices.
1. Trickle Down Leadership
Leadership is the only place to begin. Because the leadership traditionally implements change (and therefore are the first to be aware of it), they are expected to uphold the proposed changes and to be models of how to incorporate it into business life. So it’s important that a company’s leaders adequately prepare themselves to step into the limelight.
Two Outlooks: There will undoubtedly be people who embrace change with open arms; there will certainly be some who are genuinely excited. But for a percentage of the employee population, the change will be confusing or intimidating. These are the people who most need guidance, and these are the people who are going to look to others for examples on how to persevere. This is why it is so vital for all the leaders to be on the same page, to understand the changes completely and to motivate everyone else through demonstration.
But it can’t just be a matter of CEO enthusiasm. Many changes fail because they are the brainchild of upper management, but are not properly communicated to department managers and other officials. Avoid common mistakes with this blog post on 4 tips for effective organizational leadership. Leadership during change must trickle down; it starts at the top and eventually it must be realized at the peer-to-peer level.
2. Method To The Madness
A smile and a fist pump isn’t going to convince many people of the benefits or necessities of change. Employees want to understand what is going on. And employees worth their salary are going to question change; they will ask questions, they be curious, they will want to know exactly what the changes mean and what they will accomplish.
It is therefore crucial to make sure everyone understands why the change is needed, why it is the right choice for the company and why the employees should support the decision. This is a matter of respect, as well; an explanation is truly the least people deserve, especially if they were left out of the decision-making process. This course on leadership and change will show you how to coach your teams through difficult transitions and how to deal with resistance.
Some change, such as downsizing, can be very difficult to handle. That is why it is important to approach this systematically:
Truth: Any meetings concerning change should address the facts first: this is what’s happening and this is what we have to do. Change usually results as a matter of necessity; do not hide the fact that this necessity exists. It will be crucial to making people believe in the effort.
Dedication: Many people believe that a company’s success is rooted in tradition or a certain way of doing things. It is important to remember that skill, intelligence and a degree of risk are responsible for all good business decisions. The company must communicate and facilitate faith in itself to be successful.
Action: The final piece of the puzzle is a course of action. Do not propose change without a solid plan for moving forward. This is what some people will be most curious about: how are we going to make this work? how will our faith be rewarded?
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3. Changes Within Changes
Change inevitably causes more change. I’m talking about people. Change literally means that people’s jobs are going to change; their duties will be different; their daily landscape is going to have a whole new look. This is not always welcomed and once change is implemented, it is critical to monitor the humanity of the situation and to already have a plan in place. Engage people in empowering change with this leading successful change class.
This means that even before the change is finalized, everyone with responsibility for other people is aware of a “protocol,” although that is a somewhat robotic word for the situation. If you wait until one employee here and one employee there start to have serious difficulties, you’re asking for a domino effect of disaster.
Preemptive Measures: An enormous amount of thought must go into empathizing with every department or position the change will affect. Can processes be redesigned to alleviate stress? Can certain people handle more responsibility than others? What smaller-scale strategies can be implemented to ease the transition? Employees are paid to do their jobs, but it is easy to ask them to do too much, too soon; they are people, not machines.
4. The Changing Culture
Change is about more than streamlined processes, new products and alternative directions. Change is about culture, and this takes the human side of it to another level. Ideally (and commonly), change starts with leadership and, as I mentioned in my first principle, trickles down through the company. As this happens, the changes presumably have a greater and greater effect. It is therefore only natural that a corresponding culture develops alongside the change.
Controversy: If the changes are controversial, then the culture can quickly become malignant. Everyone from executives to employees can feel disgruntled and opinions can quickly become public and, if popular, epidemic. A culture must be associated with a change. This helps ensure that it has the backing of the entire company.
You must consider change from every cultural angle: the company’s core values, individuals’ beliefs, how it corresponds to past practices, what is essential about it, etc. A change is not just a business idea; it is a vision, and it must be treated as such. Learn how to make change systematic and successful with this organizational culture change course.
5. Prepare For The Worst
While hope can be a valuable characteristic in people, it is generally unsuccessful in business. Hope for the best all you want, but in all likelihood the best will never, ever happen, so you need to prepare for the worst.
Every change, no matter how thoroughly researched and planned, is going to have at least a few flaws or weaknesses. Some of these are likely to arise in people; there’s simply no telling how every individual will feel. Preparing for such encounters and setbacks is a two-step process:
- Anticipation: There are limits to what anticipation can accomplish, but decision making must factor into the equation early. A certain amount of leeway is wonderful, but too much and the company architecture will sway. Anticipating the sheer existence of unplanned complications is necessary, but making solid decisions once they arise is just as important. Get help with this course on creative problem solving.
- Data: Data can be collected by closely monitoring the implementation of new changes. This extends beyond the human element, as well. Are the changes on track in terms of performance and effectiveness? Have any weaknesses been identified? Where are we seeing the best results, and why? Where are we seeing the worst, and why? How can we combine our findings to move the changes forward?
6. Communication, A Million Times Over
There is a saying in business that you cannot communicate too much. While communication can certainly be over-bearing, this is a good rule to follow during times of change or unrest. Communication will help keep everyone informed and, more importantly, connected to the discussions and decisions going forward.
Rigging The System: It is good to have excuses to communicate, as well. If you are constantly asking how people are doing, that is going to get old fast. This brings me back to one of the original points I made about laying out goals and objectives (need help laying out your ideas? read this blog post on understanding the differences between goals and objectives).
If you can break objectives down into strategies and tactics, you can have a good, business related excuse to talk to people almost every day. As goals are approaching, or met, it is a good time to talk about how things are going and, of course, congratulate people on their success.
Creating A Presence: You can also hold meetings weekly, release periodic statements or letters of progress, redefine ongoing objectives, etc. Communication is a hot topic in business, but even still it doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. If this has been a historically weak point of yours, get help with this top-rated course and discover how to communicate effectively in one day.