Change is inevitable. The business world is in a constant state of evolution and it’s never moved quicker. Your business needs to be dynamic and adaptive to stay competitive. In order to do this, you need to get employee buy-in and prepare your organization to effectively manage change.
You need a direction and purpose for when change happens. A change management strategy can help you not only quickly react and pivot, but also anticipate change. Here we talk about the importance of change management and how to implement a change management strategy to get your employees on board.
what is change management?
Change management is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a strategy or process for managing change and development within your organization. It involves preparing for, anticipating and reacting to change. A strong change management strategy helps companies and their employees adapt and stay agile when they face changes that impact their work or industry.
why is change management important?
Change is constant and it’s inevitable. Companies need to be prepared before change happens in order to remain competitive and evolve. Technology has only sped up the need to adapt to new ideas, concepts, processes, best practices and technological advances.
Failure to manage change effectively can lead to a number of negative outcomes:
- It can create an ‘us vs. them’ mentality
- It can cause undue stress on all levels of your company – from the top down
- It could result in a drop in employee morale
- It can hurt company and employee performance
- It can hurt your employer brand and reputation with customers
Resisting change and not adapting to the changing marketplace can negatively impact business now and in the future. It can also have a trickle-down effect on the company and create negative customer and employee experiences, potentially hurting your company reputation.
change management tips to navigate change seamlessly
A well-planned and thorough change management strategy is the key to navigating change successfully. Use these change management tips to create an effective change management plan for your organization:
start from the top
Get your leaders on board. Leaders should be champions for the need for change within your company – if they’re excited about changes that will trickle down to employees. So include them in the planning and development stages of building your change management strategies. Getting their insights and feedback early can be useful – they know their teams and how they work and respond to change. Leaders should also be invested in the roll out of changes and help their reports navigate the shift.
identify a need
Identifying areas for improvement is vital. Without understanding the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind a change, you’re just changing things for the sake of it. Be aware of what you want to change, how it needs to change, and use this to create a change management plan that’s tied to your reality rather than whims that will come and go. · do your research Change affects everyone differently. It’s important to understand the impact changes have on both an organizational and employee level. Understand employees’ needs and how change will affect your business from the top down. It’s also important to understand how external and industry factors will come into play and account for them.
coach employees through it
Change can be intimidating. Avoid trying to force people to adapt. The ‘because I said so’ approach rarely generates the results you want. Take a softer approach and focus on leading or coaching employees through change, making sure to explain why it’s happening and how they stand to benefit. When you try to force people to do something they’re not used to, they are more likely to resist and reject the change, even if it’s in their long-term interest.
have a positive frame of mind
Change can have a negative connotation. Some people will not be open to making adjustments to their way of working, initially. Create a positive association with change and focus on how people stand to benefit from new ways of doing things.
training and development
Change takes time. People are creatures of habit and get set in their way of doing things quite quickly. You can’t expect new processes and behaviours to be adopted overnight. Experts say it takes about 21 days of repetition to form a habit. Provide support through a comprehensive training plan to ease the transition to the new processes and behaviours, and ensure employees stick with the changes long enough for them to become a standard part of the way they work.
openly communicate with employees
People are inherently resistant to change. They often put up their guard and feel threatened if they’re forced into something they don’t really understand. That’s why it’s essential that you openly communicate with your employees about anticipated changes. Explaining why the change is needed and how employees will be affected are especially important. Also make sure your leadership is available to address their questions and concerns.
reinforce your message often
Communicating is important. But reinforcing that message multiple times will be necessary. It’s easy for employees to brush off one email or a big announcement from their manager if that’s the last they ever hear of it. If you want changes to stick, you need to be consistent (and persistent) about your message. Reinforce your message about organizational change frequently. Speak about it when addressing employees, during meetings, in emails, and through company communications. Make sure it’s top of mind for everyone in the company.
practice good listening
Listen to what others have to say about proposed change. It’s important to understand how change will affect all areas of the company. Ideally, you should include on-the-ground employees and get their feedback before implementing sweeping changes. However, the communication doesn’t stop there. Listen to feedback and take it into consideration after the roll out. Be open to adjustments to your change management strategy. Listening to your team can help increase buy-in and ease the transition.
Change is necessary. Your company needs to change with the times to stay competitive. Use the above tips to shape your change management strategy, get employee buy-in and develop a strong and effective change management plan.