Successfully managing a company through a period of change can be a difficult thing to achieve. Not only are you attempting to introduce new processes or techniques into the workplace, but you also have to get different teams on board with them and implement the changes as seamlessly as you can.
In order to help you manage change effectively, there are five key approaches that can help in most change situations. Others may be substituted in according to different priorities and circumstances, but general change management procedures would do well to follow these guidelines to ensure prolonged success.
- Create a goal for the future (attainable, clear, understandable, desirable)
There is no point in making changes to an organisation when you don’t know what your ultimate goal is – if you don’t know, how can your teams support you? You need to ensure that your goal is:
- Attainable – the goal is realistic and you know that you can achieve it within a given timeframe.
- Clear – it is easy to see how the goal can be achieved.
- Understandable – outsiders and internal team members are able to easily understand the aims of the goal and how it will be achieved.
- Desirable – achieving the goal will benefit the business in the long and short term, and everyone involved recognises that.
- Anticipate challenges, confusion and resistance
It is natural that challenges, confusion and resistance could occur during the change. There may be those who consider the change unnecessary, those who are confused about why it is occurring and how it will change things, and those who actively attempt to undermine it.
It can help a great deal, therefore, if you anticipate the objections and concerns people might have with the changes and come up with solutions or answers to be used if needed. These solutions are not only of practical use but will also naturally increase the confidence of employees because they can see the thoroughness of the planning and know that every option and outcome is being considered.
- Be prepared to make changes, learn from mistakes and build on successes
Although it’s incredibly important that a solid plan is conceived and referred to throughout the change process, it is just as important that managers have the courage to deviate from it in the event of certain aspects not working out as expected.
For instance, a new process that was part of the original plan because it looked effective in theory may not be effective when it comes to actually using it. In a case like this, an alternative process would need to be conceived and implemented to see if it works any more effectively than before. If a mistake is made, learn from it and remember not to do it again – there’s nothing worse than making the same mistake twice!
Conversely, if something does work well, see if it can be implemented in a similar way anywhere else and capitalise on its success. If it doesn’t work again, there was no harm in trying.
- Respect problem-raisers
Do not dismiss concerns in an out of hand manner when they are raised – it is important to respect the opinions of everyone, and even if those concerns aren’t valid, pay respect to the people that raised them. This further demonstrates that everyone has the right to be fairly heard and ensures that employees remain engaged with the organisation and its aims.
- Publish early successes to build confidence
If you believe that confidence in the success of the proposed changes is low, make sure you highlight any and all early successes so that the whole company is aware of them, rather than just the people immediately involved. This will naturally increase the confidence of the different teams and help to consolidate the changes as the new permanent way that things are done within the company. Even if there are setbacks, highlighting the successes will help to gloss over the failures.
Interested in change management? Take a look at how you could improve your change management skills