It’s been said that the only thing that’s constant is change. That’s certainly true in the business world, where mergers, acquisitions, retiring CEOs being replaced by newly appointed ones, and myriad other things that occur on a regular basis.
It’s likely that your company experiences change on a regular basis. That’s normal and a good thing, because change is necessary for growing business and profits. It’s important, however, to prepare for that change by considering and addressing upfront all the issues involved. To that end, I advise clients to develop a consistent change management process that will help ease the impact changes have on your organization and on your employees.
Consider these actions:
1. Know the whos, whats and whys that are related to the change.
Most changes are implemented to improve a process, product or outcome. With this in mind, it’s important to clarify your goals. This involves determining who specifically will be leading the change as well as what resources will be needed. Knowing these things will help build a strong foundation and pave the way for successful implementation.
This is where it’s also crucial to create a strategy that lays out how the change will be introduced, who is responsible for specific actions and what will happen when. Consider this your roadmap. It’s usually smart to implement change over a series of steps rather than all at once. Don’t forget to include measurable targets, incentives and measurements, and to review and revise as needed along the way.
2. Ensure that all appropriate people are on board
When change is planned, it’s almost always necessary to solicit support, whether moral or financial from various stakeholders. Depending on your organization this could include leaders at various levels, board members, staff, financial backers, and others. Change will only take place smoothly if all key players are committed to it. Note that this process can vary wildly by organization, so it’s important to give it enough time, be patient and maintain ongoing, open communication with all involved.
3. Communication is key
Speaking of communication, don’t skimp here. Effective change management depends on it. Groups of employees have their own distinct psychological and sociological traits, as well as skill sets, knowledge and experiences. On the other hand, you need to be aware of their longstanding routines, practices and even politics. Nearly all change management models advocate for clear communication and transparency throughout the process. It’s necessary to be aware of this.
4. Be prepared to deal with naysayers
Any time the word “change” is involved there will be resistance. It’s human nature. People have a comfort level, and to disrupt it can make them uncomfortable. This is why it’s important to get everyone on board early on. Resistance is normal when change management takes place, and problems can arise when it threatens the success of a project. This is why leaders need to be prepared to address resistance where it exists. Understanding that it’s really a manifestation of being risk-averse and fearing the unknown helps them effectively deal with those so the change initiative isn’t impacted.