Change is one of a few constants in the modern business world.
In a realm that often throws up the unexpected, change is one thing you can bank on.
But its unpredictable nature can leave organizations stunned and ill-prepared to deal with its outcomes.
In today’s fast-moving business environments, the old adage ‘by failing to prepare you’re preparing to fail’ rings true.
Being ready for change is one thing, but orchestrating a viable change management plan is another.
This is necessary in a world where technologies, markets, and customer preferences continuously shift and evolve.
Though companies are clocking onto the importance of change management, many fail to adopt a failsafe, measured approach.
— Lean Change Management Association (@LeanChangeOrg) December 11, 2018
Rather than fall victim to bad change management practices, your best bet is to learn from the mistakes of your counterparts.
If you can pick up from where they went wrong, you’ll be positioned to deal with the unpredictable nature of change.
Leaders must communicate change, but also help their staff navigate through it.
To help you on route to establishing a successful change management 101, here are some common mistakes which are well worth avoiding:
Ignoring Employee Resistance
Employee resistance is one of the biggest reasons why change falters.
When employees feel a lack of motivation to embrace change, the chances are new initiatives will fail.
This underlines the importance of dealing with the people side of change. You can have the best processes in the world, but when they’re not met with enthusiasm from your workforce they can easily grind to a halt.
When employees muddle through change there can be messy consequences, meaning it’s best to tackle employee resistance from the get go.
It’s common for leaders to perceive resistance as an outcome of a disengaged workforce, but this is far from the truth.
This view if anything indicates disengaged leadership who don’t understand their workers.
When employees receive limited information from their superiors, they’re more likely to resist change because they think it’s a bad idea based on what they’ve been told.
If employees only know half the story, their intuition might tell them new initiatives are unwise.
Resistance is to a certain degree inevitable, so leaders must tackle its root cause rather than becoming disillusioned and alienating staff further.
By appreciating this approach you can establish a powerful change management 101.
Failing to Develop a Clear Communication Plan
Communication is everything. When it comes to change you can never over-communicate.
Positive communication involving two-way dialogue is always recommended. This will incentivize staff to meet change goals as they feel involved in the process.
You must help your employees navigate through change using clear communication.
Transparency is critical, alongside informing your employees prior to going ahead with new processes.
This works for courtesy, but efficiency too. Providing information throughout the change process will instigate an accepting workforce.
This can be achieved by developing a clear communication plan which suggests different forms of communication for different circumstances.Neglecting the importance of communication is a surefire recipe for disaster, but by planning your communication efforts you’ll always be one step ahead with your change management 101.
Not Capitalizing On Staff Input
Change will never happen as expected. Though preparation is great, you must be ready to flexibly adjust your approach based on changing circumstances.
Once your change initiative is underway, you should seek real-time feedback from those executing the change; your frontline staff.
There are various software tools you can use to collate staff feedback, most of which focus on collecting information in a central hub for easy access.
Staff can contribute valuable input on how well things are running, and how change is impacting their daily duties.
The effects of change might not be as expected, which is why tweaks can derive from staff suggestions to achieve desired results.
Measuring the effects of change is a great idea, alongside seeking feedback from team members.
With the data you extract you can make adjustments on the fly to achieve the best possible results.
What’s great about capitalizing on staff input is they know their role inside out, so can bring valuable insight to proceedings.
They’ll also have a greater sense of motivation to embrace change if their opinions are valued.
Top-down leadership is commonplace, but senior staff members often make the mistake of dictating rather than educating.
And let’s face it no one likes being told what to do. Human nature is to reject information when it’s dictated to us, which is clearly undesirable.
Always avoid demanding things from staff, rather informing them on the best way to proceed and being open to suggestions.
This has a lot to do with your delivery and how you say things, requiring an established sense of soft skills.
To help you come across as less of a dictator and more of a fun, welcoming person, why not engage your team with exercises and games? This is a great way to lighten the mood on change.
To avoid seeming like your dictating, you should gently introduce change and allow your team to adapt to it at their own pace.
Education is encouragement, where staff come to terms with new initiatives on their own accord.
It’s important to remember change can be harsh, so to take a proactive, patient approach to introducing it.
You’ll never find an iron fisted dictator at the helm of a change management 101!
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.