Businesses should always be responsive to change. This arises from several occurrences common in the business world, ranging from changes in technology and production methods to underlying economic trends.
Businesses are always expected to evolve and adapt their operations to mirror these changes. In business, you learn that the world (read customers and market forces) waits for no one. If you cannot tailor your operations to reflect changes occasioned by shifts in laws and regulations (to mention a few), you risk getting shut down and losing your customer base.
It is also worth noting that adapting to changes is not as easy as it sounds. It is estimated that 40 percent of organisational change initiatives do not see the light of day, which calls for proper change management strategies.
Therefore, managers should know how to plan, coordinate, and conduct change to prevent unsuccessful change initiatives. In this article, we look at some of the steps that can help you implement change management in your organisation.
However, before we delve deeper into these steps, we will look at change management and what it entails. Our discussion should give you an idea of how to spearhead some initiatives whenever the need arises.
We cannot define change management without first looking at organisational change. Organisational change refers to all the actions that an organisation undertakes to change or adjust its major components.
What are these components? They can be the company culture, technology or infrastructure, organisational structure, or anything that the company or organisation holds dear. Another critical aspect that fits within the change framework is the company’s internal processes.
It is also important to note that organisational change can take two forms: adaptive or transformational. Adaptive changes are gradual, small, and iterative. They do not happen once. Companies undertake adaptive changes to better their products, strategies, processes, and workflow as time progresses.
An adaptive change can take the route of getting a new employee to address a given pressing issue, such as reduced customer satisfaction, or introducing a new policy that will improve the workplace and motivate everyone.
On the other hand, transformational changes are large, both in scale and scope, and their effects are felt suddenly. They are not gradual as their counterparts. These may take the route of introducing a new product and department within the organisation or expansion- acts that do away with the status quo.
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What then is change management, and what is its role in all these? Well, change management is the process of driving organisational change, right from its inception to completion. It also extends to resolution, way after the change is complete.
Change processes are normally dynamic and happen in stages. Therefore, you must have adequate knowledge of change management for smooth change processes. Here are some of the steps that you should stick to when implementing change in your organisation:
1. Do Some Prepping
You need to prepare your organisation for the change. Remember, even though these changes are highly needed for the continued subsistence of the business, they do not have to be dramatic. The change impacts should not also take a toll on the employees.
Preparation is important as it determines whether the proposed change will be successful or not. If enough preparation is not done; the impacts of the change can harm the business and those within it. The change process may not also be as smooth as anticipated.
Keep in mind that the company must prepare logistically and culturally. However, the former cannot be successful if the latter is not done first. Cultural preparation must therefore precede logistics. How do you prepare an organisation culturally?
Cultural preparation fully focuses on the employees, who will, in most cases, carry out the change. Remember, they are also the most affected parties in change implementation. The manager should therefore help the employees recognize the change and familiarize themselves with it.
They should then be made to understand the need for the change in question. If you want your employees to appreciate something new or different, you must first convince them why they need it. The same also happens in change management.
In doing this, managers should make the employees aware of the different challenges and problems facing the organisation that necessitated the said changes. Remember, most changes will cause a departure in the status quo, which may call for adjusting. Employees must therefore be prepared psychologically.
If you are wondering why this step is important, keep in mind that initial buy-in from the employees who are expected to help in change implementation smoothens the way, preventing any friction that may have occurred later.
Also, remember to seek employee feedback to assess their pain and come up with solutions. This can only happen when they understand the challenges necessitating the change. They will gladly come up with solutions that you can include in your plan.
2. Have a Vision and a Plan
Businesses are always warned against doing things blindly. The same applies to change management. You need to invest in a good plan and have a vision before going about any change in the organisation. However, that can only be possible once the organisation is ready for the change, explaining why this is the second step.
This duty of coming up with a good plan falls squarely on the managers. It should address important issues regarding the change in detail. It should cover the strategic goals of the change, which are the goals that the change will help the organisation reach.
Also include the key performance indicators, which put loosely refer to the metrics of measuring success. How will you know that the change management was successful? What are some of the metrics that should be moved? How do things currently stand?
You should also indicate the project stakeholders and project team. Ensure that you capture the names or designations of people responsible for change implementation. Who should append a signature or give a thumbs up at every critical stage? Who are some of the people charged with implementation?
Lastly, the plan should have a project scope, which refers to the steps and actions needed to execute the project successfully. Also, note anything that falls outside the project scope.
Do not forget to account for any roadblocks or unknowns that may be experienced in the project implementation process. These normally require flexibility and agility, calling for timely preparation.
3. Change Implementation
The third and most important step in change management is implementing the change. I hope that you can see how change management is structured. Each step relies on its predecessors to be successful. For example, you cannot drive change implementation without a plan.
For change implementation, one must follow the steps captured in the change management plan. These can involve changes in the company’s structure, systems, processes, strategies, employee conduct, and any other aspect you can think of.
Change implementation requires the effort of every employee, and therefore, change managers must focus more on empowering and motivating them to take the necessary steps as captured in the change management plan. This will help the organisation successfully execute the change initiative.
The main question that arises, therefore, is how employees can be empowered. There are many ways, but the ones that apply to change management are maintaining a culture of trust, delivering honest feedback, showing empathy by putting yourself in their shoes and getting their point of view, and fostering open communication.
Managers have a great role to play in the change management process. They must also anticipate any challenge or roadblock that the process may encounter and aid in their prevention, removal, or mitigation. They must therefore foreshadow the coming events.
Team members should also be constantly reminded of the overlying vision to keep them on their toes. Managers should, therefore, repeatedly communicate the change’s visions as the process progresses. What does it aim to do to the organisation? They must also ensure that the team is purpose-driven, which is best achieved by orienting their beliefs and igniting their emotions.
The change implementation process will, therefore, only go well if employees feel appreciated and invested in it. They should be made to feel at the center stage of it all to drive the process faster. This explains why managers should always strive to have a good relationship with the employees.
4. Ensure That the Change is Embedded Within the Company Culture
Change management does not stop at implementation. Changes alter the status quo in an organisation. Therefore, change managers must ensure that the company does not revert to the older way of doing things once the change implementation is complete.
What will be the essence of the change process if an organisation is still stuck to its past? The culture and practices of an organisation define how things are done within its doors, meaning that if you expect things to run differently, you have to ensure that the change is incorporated deep into them.
Employees should not backslide into the previous ways of doing things once a change has been implemented, which calls for a good, adequate plan. This is even more important during the transitioning phase.
Some of the tools you can utilize to make the change stick on your employees are new structures, controls, and even reward systems. Do not, therefore, think that the gist of the work ends at the change implementation stage.
5. Track, Review Progress, and Analyze the Results
Completing a change initiative does not guarantee your success. If you aim to implement change management successfully, you have to review progress and obtain tangible results. This is where the measuring matrices come in.
Conducting a change implementation review helps business owners or leaders determine whether a particular initiative was a success, total failure, or produced mixed results. These will inform him/ her of some areas that need improvement in the future change processes.
You need to answer the following questions in this last step. Did the change management process meet the set goals? If it did, what does this mean to other areas within the business? If it did not, what are some of the areas that can be improved?
How To Effectively Manage Change
Managing change can only happen if those involved understand the necessary steps. Before you even approach your employees, you need first to understand the forces necessitating it so that you have an easy time approaching and convincing them. This will also give you an easy time when leading conversations around the issues.
Managers must also have a detailed plan and adequate strategies to drive a change initiative till completion. Remember, nothing in business can be done without a plan. One must also think about communication, which plays an important role in the running of organisations.
Successful change management dictates that your communication should be effective, be it with your team members or primary stakeholders. Therefore, come up with a communication strategy that appreciates the role that communication plays in change management. You will know if you are on the right side if it mirrors this reality.
Lastly, a manager must play the role of foreshadowing. Can you identify any potential roadblocks? You should always be prepared to run into challenges when implementing organisational change. Getting people to shift from the practices they have known since joining the organisation is not an easy task.
You cannot predict everything as the manager. However, take some time and visualize any potential barriers that the initiative may encounter and even develop a few mitigation strategies before you dive right into implementing the change.
You can also learn all the skills required to be in charge of the change management process by undertaking management courses or interacting with people who have been in the field for quite some time.
Change management is important when undertaking change initiatives. Therefore, every organisation must ensure that it is well implemented, lest they run into trouble when making necessary changes to the organisation. These five steps should help you implement changes to any organisation.