At some point in every organization, change is inevitable. While this was a well-known fact before, the global pandemic brought it to the forefront of everyone’s minds. For business owners and leaders, the adage “adapt or face extinction” had a whole new meaning.
Change management has always been a struggle—humans are defined by routines and structure. However, there are strategies and practices to make transitions more approachable.
Here are some key strategies to help improve change management in your business.
Implementing an organizational change is an arduous task. When a significant organizational change occurs, it tends to be a direct result of human behavior. Without the proper leadership and processes in place, the resistance to change will derail the organization’s efforts and lead to a catastrophic failure.
In essence, preparing for a change in your organization is akin to planning a major project: you must begin with the end in mind. Identify the goal and clarify what problems are leading to this change, why this change is important, and what success looks like. Ensure that you can relate this information so that everyone knows how their role will be impacted and why this change is a positive thing.
Change management is a specialized area of expertise that bridges the gap between human resources (HR) and project management. As such, it’s worth bringing in an expert in change management to assist with the process.
Look for a qualified Six Sigma Master Black who has worked on similar projects and has a background in leadership. Six Sigma is a world-renowned training protocol focused on improving processes and project implementation in various fields. These experts are trained in a variety of methodologies (like the DMAIC method) to outline the process and create an execution strategy that works.
Getting employee buy-in takes a top-down approach. It’s essential for leaders to model the behavior they wish to see and initiate the changes. During transition periods, many front-line and lower-level employees get frustrated with leadership that fails to understand the impacts on the day-to-day work. This frustration adds to greater resistance and difficulty in implementation.
Encourage your C-suite executives and managers to roll up their sleeves and experience changes at each level of the business. Creating a top-down approach to buy-in and engagement cultivates a culture of change and respect.
Design a project charter to create structure around the changes within your organization. This roadmap should outline the steps ahead, timelines, and milestones to celebrate along the way.
Creating structure and measurable progress will keep your team moving forward during difficult periods. Sometimes people need to see how far they’ve come to appreciate their progress.
Communication is paramount for success when improving change management in your business. Perfecting your communication strategy should happen before day one. It’s integral to adopt a mindset of authenticity and transparency, ensuring everyone has access to information about what’s happening and why.
Making the information available isn’t enough during periods of change; you must also present it in a relevant, digestible manner. Avoid using jargon and verbosity when communicating with the organization, and opt for simple, clear, and concise language instead.
Introducing a significant change will elicit strong emotional reactions. It’s crucial that employees feel heard during this time, even if their words are negative.
Empower your employees to come forward with concerns and complaints. Acknowledge their feelings, and ask what the organization can do to make the transition smoother for them. Not all requests will be possible or feasible, but it’s important that your employees’ concerns are validated.
Resistance is inevitable when making a change; you need to accept it and plan for it from day one to be successful. Take some time to understand change saturation, the point at which employees can’t handle any more change.
With these focal points, you can improve the change management process within your organization to improve your chances of success.