It seems like entering the digital age has sped up innovation and change. Sure, the world was evolving before, but now that everything's online it has become more and more difficult for companies who refuse to plan for the unknown to keep up in the growing marketplace. Every business needs a flexible strategy to help its management teams adapt and prepare for the inevitable.
We'll dive into how your change project, how your company can plan for and manage organizational changes, and why a clear change process is important.
The Benefits of Change Management
Essentially, change management refers to how your workforce handles change without losing sight of your goals and losing morale.
Specifically, change with and around the human resources and people side of your company. While change management doesn't apply at all times, it's good to have best practices in place for when things happen.
There are two primary types of change management that we discuss below.
Change at the company level comes when you and the other executives in your company decide to make a big change in the company culture, important workflows, departmental structure, or other essential processes like merging with another company. Here, you'll need to ensure that you have a plan to implement change at the ready to help employees understand change management methodologies and persuade them to comply with it.
At this level, you're making changes that will affect a large group of people working within your company so you need to ensure that you aren't just dictating from an ivory tower. Your employees need to be part of the change or it will never fully succeed or may even end up hindering you in ways you can't foresee.
The other type of change management starts at an individual level and spreads out from there. This model puts the focus on one person to better understand their point of view and why they may or may not accept the changes you're proposing. Since company-level change depends significantly on the willingness of your employees to do things in a new way, you'll need to learn how much that change is or is not an option.
If you set up a new system for monitoring calls to benefit trainees, it only works if your workers are willing to press the record button when they're on the phones. No matter how amazing your ideas for change are, they can only succeed if everyone involved is willing to commit to them.
Managing Change and Its Benefits
As you might have guessed, employee opinions and assessments of current workflows need to be considered when you're starting a brand-new initiative. It is to have communication plans in place to help employees recognize uncertainty and accept new changes.
One of the best ways for change leaders to persuade participants to your line of thinking is to thoroughly explain themselves. Before you can do anything concrete, you'll need to be able to show what you're thinking and why your idea is a good one.
Try to answer basic questions like:
- What are the obstacles you're trying to overcome?
- What is their scope?
- How do they affect your company?
- What types of improvements equal successful change?
- Who will be impacted?
How are you planning to implement the change management process? (i.e., will you add a training course for employees? Hire someone to come in and train them?)
After you've outlined the issue and proposed your change management plan, you'll need to start doing research. Stakeholders and employees need a persuasive explanation and the facts. If you can show them that your company isn't doing too well in one area, that will give them more incentive to follow your lead with the change efforts you propose.
For example, if you have a large number of reviews complaining that you do not offer perks to loyal customers, it could be an indicator that your customer support staff needs capabilities to entice customers to stay with your company. After talking to some of your staff and confirming this opinion, you can present concrete examples of competitors and review statistics to bolster your argument.
No matter how great an organizational change management plan you offer, people are more likely to cooperate when you give them time to think about it or even add their own ideas. Springing a new initiative, new technology, or new software can make your employees form predisposed barriers against the change.
You'll need allies to promote and monitor your proposed changes. It doesn't matter how well you sell your idea, you need others to help you put it into practice. Seeking out innovative people who support your proposed changes and are well-positioned to get involved.
Remember, if you're making changes in the structure of a department, for example, it's great if you find people outside of that department who are in favor of your changes, but it would be more beneficial to find agents of change who are inside of it.
These people can also help you identify any areas or people who might be resistant to your changes, and what would ease the transition. Maybe your employees aren't totally sold on your idea and need more convincing. Maybe there are effective workflows in place that would be disrupted and cause issues further down the line unless you make allowances for them. Whatever types of insights they provide, you'll need to know what's happening on the front lines.
They can also help you stay in communication by keeping your finger on the pulse of the people affected by your changes. Maybe these people are your best bets for providing seminars or training for other employees to help get everyone on board. However they help, you'll want to ensure you have people at all levels of management involved to get differing opinions and ideas.
Plan of Attack
It's time to create a roadmap to success. Start where your company is then plan where you want to see it in a set timeframe. Be optimistic, but keep your expectations realistic. That way, if you see a more dramatic improvement, you can share the good news with your stakeholders and employees.
Be conscious of the fact that change takes time when creating your timelines, especially if it's significantly different from before. The more people involved in the change, the longer it will take to show you the effects.
This is also where you look back at your definition of your change and figure out which tools you'll need to make it successful. By now, you should have also identified some areas where new problems may arise as a result of this change and get started working out how to mitigate or eliminate those problems.
If you can present an articulate plan of the expenses, tools, personnel, and time needed to implement a change, as well as the potential issues and your proposed solutions to them, people are much more likely to agree with you and take the extra steps to proceed. As you make decisions, remember the section about transparency and keep your employees updated so the change doesn't take people by surprise.
It's important to take careful notes on where your company is currently. That way, after some time, you have the option to recheck the numbers and see if your change initiative has improved those stats. If you don't see any significant change, that could be a sign that your change isn't working or that your employees haven't accepted and implemented it.
However, if you do see a significant change, share it with your employees. This will demonstrate that their commitment and hard work are paying off and that they're contributing to your business in a positive way. Ensuring transparent communication throughout the entire process from introduction to implementation to sharing results will be encouraging and help you get more support for making changes in the future.
Showing your appreciation for them is a great way to celebrate how well your initiative is working and underscore the fact that you couldn't have done it without your employees' hard work.
All types of organizational change can be tricky, but things always go much more smoothly when you have a change management strategy in place. The hard part isn't coming up with the new change management model; it's explaining new processes and persuading employees to put them into long-term practice.
Contact us to learn more about the numerous benefits of change management and how to implement effective change management.