In business change is all around us, perhaps it’s a new software program that changes the way you complete your daily work, maybe your CEO retired, and the new CEO has a completely different management style, possibly you’re going through a merger or downsizing. We’ve all heard the saying “If nothing changes then nothing changes.” So why do we resist change so much?
In my thirty years in leadership roles I have discovered one common thread when it comes to managing change. People want to know; “How does this affect me and my job?” It pays to be proactive in your change management approaches. The following seven steps outline effective change management approaches.
- Change management planning. Ask these important qualifying questions: Why are you making these changes? Are the changes necessary? Who will be affected by these changes? Plan how the changes will be rolled out and communicated to your teams.
- Change management readiness. How prepared is your team for the change? Is the first time they have been through a major change or are they use to changes in your company? The right amount of change management depends on both the change you are implementing and the groups that are experiencing change. Every team is different. Customize your approach to your team’s needs.
- Early adopters of the change. Who on your team will help others on the team to adapt to the changes? Bring them on as an early adopter. They can help in training others and keeping moral high amid the change.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Frequent and open communication is key for building awareness and desire to change. Allowing staff to express their concerns about the change will let you know where you stand and what next steps are needed to keep the changes moving in a positive direction.
- Stay ahead of resistance from all levels. Misinformation is the leading cause of failure in changes. When you hear of resistance from any level it important to follow-up right away. Use coaching techniques to help the resisters see the benefit the changes will have on them and their career within the company.
- Training is a vital step to insure the changes stick. Be sure to properly train all staff of the new procedures involved in the change. Check for understanding, perhaps by having staff train one another on the new process. Without complete understanding your team will fall back to old comfortable habits and the old way of doing things.
Reinforcement is perhaps the most overlooked step in successful change management. If people revert back to the old way of doing things after implementation, you have not only wasted time and resources, but your solution does not generate the benefit (or ROI) that you expected. Engage C-suite, coaches, and all levels of your leadership team to reinforcement as they will be keys to creating the expectation that change will be maintained.