January is where we all decide we are going to make changes of some kind, so it seems fitting to start the year off in business with a similar topic – Change Management.
Effective change involves managing multiple opinions, emotions and security. Not everyone reacts the same to change and you should not be forcing people to change. Although most of it is common sense, there are still a lot of companies that get it wrong.
Therefore, today I am sharing my top ten tips for effective change management.
Establish and communicate a sense of urgency.
If change efforts are to be accepted, they must be shared in the context of compelling reasons for doing things and communicated clearly. Change without understanding causes disruption and uncertainty.
“Keep those impacted and involved in the change up-to-date and use a range of communication methods to keep people engaged.” Mary Cushen.
Include all the leadership community in the change.
All successful change efforts require the active involvement and participation of a leadership community. Involving the different areas from the beginning helps the transition and can identify potential problems or opportunities that may have been missed. Having a communication plan that supports this is key in any change management.
Have a clear blueprint before initiating the change.
Without a complete strategic architecture (change management plan), trying to guide a major change is like flying blind. People need to understand what is changing along with what will remain the same.
“Having a blueprint on its own is not enough though. It must be carefully planned out and believable. If not, it will be faced with resistance and cynicism.” Mary Cushen.
When you are clear about the goal and path to success, it is easier to explain to others. If you are not 100% clear on the journey, outcome or reasoning, it will be apparent and you will face more resistance.
Share the blueprint and communicate successes.
There is no point doing all the hard work in creating the change journey then not sharing it with the wider community.
Change impacts everyone and having a clear blueprint helps to calm those who worry about change. Without a clear plan, people will start to make their own assumptions.
When you regularly communicate the journey, the reasons behind the change and the impact to the individuals, support for the change will grow. This doesn’t mean everyone will agree or that there will be no resistance, but makes the journey less stressful with fewer barriers.
Accept that resistance will exist.
It is about how you handle the resistance not trying to avoid it. You can never please everyone, so the change must be communicated in a way that people know their views can be heard.
Being clear about the change, why it’s needed and what it means to them can help clear some of the basic challenges change programs face.
Remember though, understanding change doesn’t mean they like it. It helps them accept the change in their own way.
Short-term wins are important in change projects.
The momentum for change can be sustained by planning for short-term wins. These actions provide evidence that the long-term journey is worth the effort.
It can also help the well-being of everyone involved in the change by breaking up the major change, into smaller bite-sized chunks.
Do not declare victory too soon.
It can be too easy to mark change a success once the activities are completed. However, it is really a success? It is important to take a step back, complete a lessons learnt, take stock of the ‘talk on the street’ before coming to any conclusion.
If you claim a success too soon, you run the risk of damaging the reputation of the change and the successes that have happened.
Making sure you celebrate the small wins as you go along will help the overall success of the project. Having they as milestones in your change management plan, helps to keep them in mind.
Include the leaders of tomorrow, not just those of today.
To sustain the change, everyone needs to understand the reasoning and have an opportunity to share their views. The next generation of leaders are just as important as the current leaders when it comes to sustaining the long-term change.
Make sure your plan includes all leaders throughout the project. Understanding their views is as important as understanding the companies long-term vision.
When change management is considered, it is important to think about the leaders of tomorrow when completing your stakeholder plan.
Take a creative change approach.
As with learning, everyone takes change differently. By having a creative change approach and using different methods across the change program, you are involving more individuals.
The more people that understand the change, the lesser the resistance you will be met with.
Having a way people impacted or involved in the change can contact the change team with any questions is key. However, don’t just have the normal ’email your questions to…’. Have some variety and have a way that questions can be asked anonymously.
Last but not least – Remember, No-one is ready for change.
Everyone sees change in a different light. For some it’s instant panic and anxiety. Others could be more open to change or see it as the ‘norm’.
Changing how people work, who/what they work with or their workloads/work descriptions, needs careful planning and monitoring. Wellbeing and mental health need to be considered and assessed throughout the change; for everyone impacted or involved.
Even a small change can make a big difference if it’s done right. Done incorrectly and the big difference is a negative one.
Take time to plan the change. Understand why it needs to happen, who it will impact (directly and indirectly) and why it needs to be done at that time. Having the answer to these questions, helps you create a plan with reason and direction.
Need some help with change management?
Change management is always going to be a subject on the agenda. Some things will be out of your control but there is a lot you can consider to help make the change go smoothly and with the least amount of resistance.
If this is an area you know you could make improvements in, why not see how I could help you. Change is not all about systems. It could be a new system or updates to the current one but there is more to it than that. It could be new higher management, different office environment, takeover, restructure. The list is endless.
If you would like to discuss how I could help you move forward, feel free to get in touch. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.
Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash