Change has become a constant in today’s ever-evolving business world. Due to this, there’s an expectation that we all automatically need to be change experts. The reality, however, is that many change initiatives fail, and in most of those instances the source of the problem is due to some form of organisational resistance rather than a technical or operational issue that couldn’t be overcome.
This highlights the fact that effective change management is highly dependent on your people and how well they engage in the change journey, from beginning to end.
To do this, we’ve come up with the following top tips:
Tip 1: Start with the 5 Ws: What? Who? Where? When? Why?
In order to overcome resistance, it’s important to be clear and fully transparent about the change you’re embarking on. To do this you should explain exactly what is happening, who is going to need to be involved (or who will be impacted), where (or in which areas) the change is happening, when the change happening, and why the change is needed. When employees have enough information, there’s less risk of them jumping to their own conclusions or making assumptions that will negatively impact the success of the change.
Tip 2: Keep things honest
Human nature dictates that upon hearing about any change, the first question you’ll be asking is: But how does this affect me? Unfortunately, not all changes are positive to all people. If a restructure and possible reduction of your workforce is needed, it’s always better to be open about this from day one. This allows the people affected enough time to look at their options and prepare accordingly.
Tip 3: Add structure, lots of it
Change management is only effective when it follows a well-defined, structured approach. It’s imperative therefore to create a detailed plan of action with a complete list of required steps & responsibilities. It’s also a good idea to review your plan with all business units to ensure that nothing is missed and that you have their buy-in from day one of the change process.
Tip 4: You’ll need change champions and a strong support system
Change champions are people within the organisation who either volunteer or are selected to facilitate change. They are there to both promote & drive change forward, but also to gauge how the “people on the street” are feeling. A strong support system is also needed to aid managers (and/or change champions) who may have to answer some difficult questions from their team.
Tip 5: Follow a phased approach
For large-scale change initiatives, a big bang approach is very risky. A phased approach will help to ensure a more seamless transition to new technologies or processes by testing the waters one area at a time. After each phase, you can assess what worked and what did not and adjust accordingly before you tackle the next phase.
Tip 6: Communicate, communicate & communicate some more
Communication efforts should fall into 3 buckets: Prior, during & post. Prior – to explain what is about to happen, during – to explain how things are going and what’s happening next, and post – to provide feedback on how people, systems & processes are coping. Also remember that communication is not only one-way activity. Surveys, feedback forms and question & answer sessions are all great ways to gather input from your employees throughout the change process.
At Analyze we’ve assisted many of our clients through some tricky changes, and we therefore understand the complexity and pains that change can bring. If you would like to discuss how we can facilitate your change process, please Get in touch.