Change management is a buzz term that’s thrown around loosely, but when used properly can be leveraged for excellent results. Too often it’s used as a scapegoat for failure, where it’s easy to say ‘I should’ve focused more on change management’. This raises the all-important question, why didn’t you?
Change management deserves proper investment, which will help you reap long-term rewards. It is a structured approach to ensuring changes are implemented smoothly, with long-lasting benefits. There are many philosophies on what’s the best approach, from psychological models to systems thinking. It is a broad field, with multiple change management examples to learn from. As a change leader, your main responsibility is directing your team on a transition into the unknown. Change is necessary for survival in business, and if you can’t adapt with the times, failure is imminent.
This is especially relevant in today’s digital era, where regular transformations are crucial. You’ll need to realign employee perspectives with your goals for change, which typically cover the following:
Involve the right people, which will ensure the right changes are made. This is critical during the design and implementation stage of proceedings.
Executives must actively support change for it to be taken seriously on an organizational level. What good is a change strategy if it isn’t supported by high-ranking staff? With high-level endorsement for change, staff are more likely to support initiatives.
Change won’t always be accepted with open arms, so it’s a matter of encouraging staff to buy in. A resistance to change will slow things down, but when staff are willing to embrace change, your strategy will have longevity. Actively involve those who are directly or indirectly affected by change, because the full support of your team will go a long way.
Create a dialogue for change, communicating your vision with everyone involved. Tell invested parties how they’ll be affected by change, but also how they can affect change.
Your team must be ready to adapt to change, which can be achieved by giving them prior warning. With the right information, training, and help, staff will be well-positioned for change.
Now you’ve learned some typical change management objectives, you’re probably wondering how to approach change processes from a strategic standpoint? Well, learning from positive change management examples is one way, but another is to utilize these fantastic tips:
Put People First
Successful change is largely dependent on those deploying it. If staff aren’t engaged to meet company goals, they’ll probably resist change, which can slow progress considerably. Prioritizing staff engagement speaks volumes about your approach, and by putting staff first you’ll be amazed by their responsiveness to your suggestions. Reacting positively to suggestions is a two-way street, and in minimizing resisters you’ll create change champions.
Appreciate Change Takes Time
Creating cultural change takes time. Though businesses often seek overnight results, changing the way employees think about their roles is a gradual process. Reforming the hearts and minds of your workers requires patience, so allocate significant time to your change management plan. Be reasonable with the expectations you build into your plan, with a realistic mindset.
Your Vision is Your Foundation For Success
What are you trying to achieve? If you haven’t established clear goals, attempting change will cause confusion and chaos. Planning is fundamentally important, because with an end goal everyone is on the same page and moving in the right direction.
Your objectives should be flexible, subject to change in alignment with a fast-moving digital landscape. Also, you can set milestones along the way, which ensure you’re making progress. These can boost morale, especially when incentives are offered and you focus on short-term wins on route to a long-term vision
Identify the people who will be most affected by change. These are the stakeholders who need to invest in your project wholeheartedly. In the early stages of implementation, invested parties can go one of two ways. They can become the strongest resisters, or the most powerful supporters.
Do everything in your power to get them on board, which can be achieved by actively involving them in the change management process. Incorporate their ideas to boost engagement, leveraging advanced knowledge for positive effect. From a psychological standpoint, staff are more likely to embrace change when they feel involved, meaning this serves a double purpose.
Work With Those Who Are Willing
There’s only so much you can do to convert people. Sometimes staff will reject change regardless of your efforts to persuade them, which can feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall. Instead, work with people who share your vision, and let go of those who can’t. Keep key individuals as change drivers, who appreciate what you’re trying to accomplish, and most importantly are willing to participate. Don’t give up on people too soon, but equally speaking, don’t waste too many resources on flogging a dead horse.
If you’re seeking further inspiration, be sure to research some great change management examples to learn more.
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.