Realistically, transformation and leading change management have become distinct features that characterize today’s business landscape. New markets are being opened up through innovative technologies. Labor pools are also widening rapidly in order to conform to the new business models. Through these events, investor demands and capital flows have become very unpredictable. Therefore, business enterprises have had to adopt the best practices in charting the way forward in management.
Your Guide to Leading Change Management
Lead with the culture
All businessmen need to understand that culture is everything in their quest for success. In fact, recent research shows that the culture that people choose to adopt in any business context is far more critical than strategy or a business model. Leaders need to tactfully address the issue of culture by making the most out the cultural support that they get. In most cases, when an organization is undergoing changes, leaders tend to focus only on structural factors such as formal processes and reporting lines. They leave out the aspect of culture not realizing that human beings have strong emotional connection to their culture.
Start at the Top
Whereas it is advisable for you to put all employees on board at an early level, most successful change initiatives usually start with the top managers. Further, these top leaders that constitute the group of executives and their CEO have to ensure that they have set their eyes on the same target so as to start the process of leading change from their own circle. This involves agreeing together about the course and the particulars needed for its implementation. Keep in mind that you cannot drive change which you do not believe in.
Involve Every Layer
Often, the strategic planners do not take into account the fact that the people in the front line or the mid-level can either make or break the change initiative. Groups of people that fall into mid-level categories need to be informed early enough so that they are fully aware of how the process affects their jobs. In this manner, you can also get their input on various issues. Leading the process of change becomes an executable task where you can quickly notice glitches even before they occur. You also get some light on how logistical issues can be addressed.
Make Rational and Emotional Cases Together
Leaders usually make change solely on the basis of strategic business objectives like entering new markets or on a percentage growth expected within a certain time frame. This is fine as far as business goals are concerned. However, they need to touch people’s emotions genuinely enough to ensure their commitment to your cause. You need to know that human beings respond positively to a call of action that engages their minds as well as their hearts, which makes them feel as though they belong to something consequential.
Act in a Way That Depicts Your New Thinking
People who work through teamwork will easily notice when their leaders change the way they do their things. This is a concept that needs to be understood and employed in order to realize success in driving the process of change. In most circumstances, change initiatives fail miserably because of leaders assuming that people will begin to change their behaviors as soon as directives and other formal elements have been put in place. Bold statements do only so much as far as driving change goes. The real deal is through putting mechanisms that ensure people behaviors reflect what is expected of them.
All kinds of communication need to be used in order to fully convince the people to buy into what you are telling them. Not only do you need to preach change during the rollout, but also during the other critical stages of integrating various elements so that everything falls into place. Communication needs to be ongoing where multifaceted efforts on all levels takes place so that the message is kept alive and every employee knows their place and the outcomes.
Lead From Outside the Usual Lines
Change is easily felt in an organization when the formal leaders who are in authority are seen to be driving the cause. However, real change can be realized outside the formal enshrines of leadership either through other people and their expertise, or through their personal qualities that makes them trustworthy. These people are commonly known as “special forces”. They exist in almost all organizations. Such a person could be a renowned supervisor who is respected for his innovations or a secretary that has worked with the organization for over 20 years. Companies that drive change successfully identify and bring all these people on board as both participants and guides.
Seek Formal Solutions
Persuading employees to follow the new code or way of doing things never suffices to effectively attain your goals. Other factors such as structure, training and reward systems need to be re-engineered to suit their needs. Unfortunately, most companies fall short in leading change management in this area. Without incentives and formal treatment, even those who are enthusiastic about the new plans will fall away. Bonuses need not only come from “lip service” but through tangible, substantial items that motivate a human being.
Seek Informal Solutions
Formal and informal solutions must be combined to drive change. Leading change management is a tricky matter because even when formal approaches have been put into place, people will always subconsciously revert to the old way of doing things. You need to rid the organization from the old ethic of simply doing things because you were told to do so. Improvements need to be rewarded and celebrated. Give the people many reasons to do what you have ordered cheerfully.
Asses and Adapt
Recent research shows that most leaders do not measure their success before moving on to the next step. They are eager to claim victory and are not keen to determine what is working and what is stalling their efforts. In this manner, leaders deprive the organization of information that is critical to supporting the entire process
Ultimately, driving change needs to be a continuous process so that the business organization is better placed to survive into the unknown future. As a leader, this does not need to be a daunting task for you. Skill and tact is all you need so that you make informed decisions geared towards the attainment of your goals through effective approaches to leading change management.
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.