Change Management Lessons from the Trenches
Change is constant, the need for change is increasing, and ability to manage change has become critical in order for organizations to succeed.
One thing is certain – Change is not going away. The good thing is that change is manageable and there are certain things organizations can do to best leverage this change and to make it as painless and digestible for their people.
Successful change management requires:
- Visible and active executive involvement (not just support)
- The right people involved and driving the change
- Effective communication – employee engagement and involvement
- Perceived understanding of the reason for the change
#1: From our experience, trying to implement change without sufficient leadership support and involvement is an uphill battle. Absolutely everything one attempts to do to manage the change below the leadership level will be significantly more difficult – in fact, we often spend a fair portion of our effort increasing awareness and understanding of the change at the executive level, getting true buy-in, and supporting leaders in effectively sponsoring the change.
#2: Pulling together the right people to support the change initiative and successful drive the change is one of the most important processes, however, also one of the more difficult. The very people that we want to help drive the change initiative are the same people that are core and critical to the business. They are the best and very difficult to pull out from the day-to-day running of the business. However, one of the mistakes companies make is to create a project team of people that are available and easy to pull out of the business, resulting in a suboptimal team. Change is challenging and creating the right team must be a priority!
#3: Communicate Communicate Communicate! Communication during change is critical, even though it is often a time when there is a lot of uncertainty and pending decisions. However, if people receive no information, they are likely to think the worst. One thing that leaders often don’t realize is that communicating “we don’t know” is acceptable, honest and recommended when they don’t know the answer. Employees value this information and the transparency. Communication efforts are always a key part of any major change initiative and leadership shares a significant portion of the responsibility in the delivery of the key messages.
#4: Finally, if there is no sense of urgency around the need to change or an understanding of why the organisation is moving in a certain direction, getting buy-in from employees will be near impossible. While people may not completely agree with the decision, if they don’t understand where it is coming from and why they are going through all the effort to do things differently, they might just go through the motions or very possibly resist. Leadership must make sure that they can explain the imperative for the change.