While the executive vision and support, clearly communicated, is important, when you want to help your organization, department or team change, it is not enough. More fundamental approaches to planning and analysis need to occur to encourage effective change management.
You wouldn't set off on a journey without a plan. (Even my husband and I, on one memorable road trip, sat in the car in the driveway and asked each other whether we should go north or south and decided south. That was a plan. Right?)
In organizations, you have a large number of stakeholders—including the employees—so you need their ownership and support for any change effort to work. How you go about the process of introducing and implementing the needed changes is critical.
Recommended Steps to Manage Change Effectively
- How much trust exists currently within your organization? Is this enough trust?
- Do you have a history of open communication and employee support for change efforts?
- Do people feel positive about their work environment? Is your culture employee friendly?
- Do you share financial information? Is communication transparent?
- Have you experienced a lot of changes and managed it successfully, so your employees are ready to change, and not change-weary?
These factors have a tremendous impact on whether people will accept and willingly participate in change. If you can build a positive and supportive work environment and culture prior to making changes, you have a great head start on the change implementation working successfully.
- Turn the change vision into an overall plan and timeline, and plan to practice forgiveness when the timeline encounters barriers. Solicit input to the plan from people who own or work on the processes that are changing. Otherwise, you will set your organization up for unwanted and unnecessary resistance.
- Gather information about and determine ways to communicate the reasons for the changes. These may include the changing economic environment, changing competitive environment, customer needs and expectations, vendor capabilities, government regulations, population demographics, financial considerations, resource availability, and company direction.
- Assess each potential impact to organization processes, systems, customers, and staff. Assess the risks and have a particular improvement or mitigation plan developed for each risk.
- Plan the communication of the change. People have to understand the context, the reasons for the change, the plan and the organization’s clear expectations for their new roles and responsibilities. Nothing communicates expectations better than improved measurements and rewards and recognition.
- Determine the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) of the change for each person in your organization. Work on how the change will affect each employee directly, and how to make the change fit his or her needs as well as those of the organization.
- Some respondents to a survey a few years ago found that the development and sharing of a theoretical underpinning for the changes were effective in helping individuals understand the need for change.
- Be honest and worthy of trust. Treat people with the same respect you expect from them.
Assess the readiness of your organization to participate in the change. You can speak with cross-sections of employees to inquire about their support for the changes you propose. Interview other key managers and staff to determine the amount of effort you will need to expend to gain support.
You can use valid and reliable instruments that are available to help you assess employee readiness for change. You can also obtain qualitative information from internal or external consultants who specialize in organization development.
Have them obtain the answers to questions such as these.
Effective change management can help you successfully implement any change necessary for your future prosperity and profitability.