Change management: effective implementation
Change happens every day within every business. Each week, new plans and projects are put together and launched in order to improve organisational performance, to ultimately increase profits and enhance competitive edge. Changes are usually influenced and driven by technology, financial, people or operational-related issues, in an attempt to innovate, progress and develop forwards.
In order to keep up with their competitors, organisations must be able to implement change quickly and successfully with little disruption to its daily operations. Change management must therefore be taken seriously, and be well considered and planned.
Here are 5 ways of ensuring effective change management within any workplace:
1/ The effect of change
Any business transformation will create certain issues. Many people are inclined to be extremely apprehensive of change and instead prefer ‘the norm’, or routines and practices that they are used to. Any alteration (no matter how small) can create uncertainty and even resistance within the workplace, even if it is deemed to be a mostly positive change.
Recognising this is therefore the key to any successful change management strategy; a one-size-fits-all approach to every change will not work. Ensuring that a formal approach for managing change (beginning with the leadership team and then engaging key stakeholders and leaders) should be developed early, and adapted often as change moves through the organisation.
2/ Start at the top
People look up to the leadership team for strength, support and direction during periods of uncertainty and change; therefore leaders themselves must embrace the new approaches first. Any management issues should be rectified before the communications are released and the change starts. Leaders should be committed to the new direction, and be seen as confident.
Management teams that work well together are best positioned for success, as this positivity will then flow throughout the workforce. It is important that the leadership team involved in the change reinforce the key messages.
3/ Involve everyone
The majority of change within an organisation usually affects many different people at all levels. It is therefore vital to involve all people/representatives throughout the whole process – from start to end. This will give the procedure more buy-in and ownership.
Ensuring that everybody is involved might mean a more complex strategy, or take a little longer to complete, but it will mean that success is more guaranteed.
Be sure to listen to the points of view and ideas of the key stakeholders because usually the people involved who are carrying out the operational roles can help to provide some good solutions and concepts on progressing forward. Plus they will then usually be far more motivated to help implement the plan.
4/ Good communications
Rumour and hearsay can seriously damage a well-planned change management strategy – at any stage. The best change programmes therefore continually reinforce core messages through regular, timely advice that is both inspirational and practicable.
Communications should not just flow down but also from the bottom up too. Thus giving employees the ability to feedback and ask questions is essential. Keeping people well informed via various tools (emails, newsletter, one-2-one’s, group briefings etc.) will help to reduce any widespread negativity or speculation.
Once the change is completed it is good practice to evaluate the entire process before rushing into the next project – what went well, not so well. Learn from any errors and ensure that these are incorporated into the next plan.
Having change management ‘leaders or experts’ within all departments and making it a required skill within everyone’s job description can also help to ensure that change is an inherent part of the organisation and seen as crucial to delivering the overall business strategy.