As a business grows, quite a number of changes have to be made to position it strategically in the marketplace. And because most of us aren’t as receptive to change as we think we are, this can cause quite a bit of a problem. That’s because when not managed properly, change will result in disgruntled employees, low employee morale and reduced productivity.
It is, however, possible to navigate through major changes within a business successfully, but only if you use the right strategies. Here are five change management strategies that when employed will help smooth change implementation.
Involve your employees. The most effective strategy for change management is surprisingly simple: include your entire workforce from the beginning. The top-down approach does not work when managing change. Very often the Management Team becomes secretive and insular about changes, more so those related to restructuring and layoffs. Springing big changes on your employees at the last minute could elicit resentment, anger and non-cooperation. Involve your employees from the beginning, get their input and opinions on the current state of the business and how things can be changed to meet set goals. People are generally less resistant to change when it comes from them.
Convince your people that the change is necessary. After doing something the same way for some time, people get into routines which are difficult to get out of. For them to be willing to get out of this “comfort zone”, you will have to show them why it is necessary to change. Demonstrate to them the benefits of the changes being implemented. Remember to start with your top management as they need to embrace the change first so as to motivate and challenge junior employees to do the same.
Communicate. Don’t just communicate the change at the beginning then assume that all the employees are on board. Constant communication is necessary throughout the transition period to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Seek feedback from your workforce and actually use it to realign and adjust your approach if need be. Team meetings, short surveys, and company-wide webcasts are some of the ways you can ensure that information is being exchanged between you and your employees. Keeping everyone in the loop will help keep employee morale up while creating a sense of involvement.
Pay attention to the individual. The thing about change is that it’s not the organisation that changes, but rather the individuals in it. Focus on each person or department when implementing change instead of having an overall view of the entire business. Making the individual the centrepiece of change and assist them to work through their personal concerns for a smoother transition.
Adjust the culture. Evaluate the cultural landscape within your business to identify beliefs, perceptions, and behaviours that could undermine the change initiative. Once you have identified them, work on changing those that could impact change negatively and reinforce those that support the change effort.
Like all other processes, constant monitoring is required to ensure that setbacks are caught in time and adjustments made to keep the transition on course. If things aren’t going as planned, don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone with more experience who can offer a fresh perspective. You could also call in professional change management consultants to help your business navigate through change smoothly.
Although change is inevitable in business, it is how we manage it that determines whether the business comes out stronger or a shell of its former self.