In retrospect there are two types of changes: beneficial or destructive. Business directors may like more the beneficial ones, but how to help that happen?
Keep the business objectives in mind
Voluntarely launched change initiatives are usually expected to support the strategy and speed up the business results. An efficient change plan is very focused on the business case. The key is to understand the logic how the everyday actions deliver the business benefits. Motivating and managing the stakeholders to do these actions is the fundamental outline of the business oriented change plan.
The other side of the coin is avoiding any loss. The transition period burdens the organization in many ways. It may cause confusion, resistance, extra work and time spent in trainings, to name just a few. The negative impact in productivity or reputation may cause decline in sales, profits or customer satisfaction. Therefore any risk for business continuity or results must be recognized and mitigated in early stages of the change.
Provide everyone a sensible change experience
Imagine that you are any of the frontline employees or customers who are impacted by the change. Are you well informed and motivated at any point of the change period? Is the communication timely and concrete? Do you experience the training or support comprehensible and helpful? Have you partipicated in change planning? Do you know what to do next?
If the answer is yes, you may look at a well-designed change. The secret is organised and systematic approach, understanding the interdependecies and sharing awareness between the key roles. You should also use an approach that fits well with the business environment.
Stay close to people who will make the change happen
The change takes place in certain business environment. If you don’t know the work in question well, take some time to explore it. Spend time with the employees, maybe doing the work yourself. Interview the professionals or invite them to partake in change planning. Make sure you have discussed the solution in details with people doing the work. You get precious tips how to introduce and lead the change.
Provide the middle managers and supervisors adequate coaching or guidelines depending on their leadership maturity level. Use the terminology and language they will speak. Visit the sites regularly during the change.
Describe the new way of working clearly
Change alters the way of working. Make sure that all the alterations to the workflows are identified and that the overall picture is clear for each role. The new solution or procedure should also be tested by the users before the implementation.
In my experience the failure of the change lies quite often in this area. Sometimes the new way of working is not clear or the solutions doesn’t work properly in daily use. In that situation the individuals need to reinvent their work all of a sudden when the change comes into effect. If they are frontline employees, the risk for negative customer experience rises. But if you introduce a clear and sensible solution which fits well to daily work, the change resistance is rare.
Always stay practical
Some people love change theories but most of us don’t. Everything you are planning should be very practical. A well-designed change is easy to lead. And when the change is well run, individuals experience the change clear and approachable.
Photo by Aaron Burden