In order to improve your business, change management has to be at the core of your strategy. In a business environment that is changing more and faster than ever, it's important to know how to deal with change in order to stay competitive. Changes to businesses are usually made to increase efficiency, but managing change poorly can lead to the exact opposite. To avoid this, it's essential that you know how to manage your team during times of change.
What is change management? Well, it's the process of evaluating your business and team and creating a strategy to implement change with maximum impact but minimum resistance, and in order to do this you must take many things into consideration.
Don't make too many changes
Making many significant changes at once will certainly spook your workforce, changes must be introduced slowly and gradually. This means you need to prioritise the most important changes. When introducing the further changes along the line, try to gauge how your team are adjusting to the changes and if things are taking longer than expected, or if you can see problems starting to arise, slow down your change process.
Don't dictate your changes
Changes should not just be sprung upon your workforce. Make sure everyone in the business is leading by example, especially managerial staff. Your team will recognise your involvement and not think that the new measures, which may not be favourable, only apply to them. Leaders need to start these processes before their subordinates in order for them to acclimatise to the changes before they are put solidly in place. Cascading leadership approaches would then move down throughout the whole organisation.
Communication is not engagement
Open up to your staff. Sending an email or arranging a meeting to inform staff is one-way communication. Engagement is giving the opportunity to feed back to the decision makers about your proposed changes. This could even allow your team to suggest alternative changes that could be better for the business, whilst meeting them in the middle. After all, they know which inefficiencies they face the most.
Consider your business culture
Are your team a disposable resource? Probably not. Use positive things within your business culture to help people accept the change. Focus on the positives behind the change that is about to happen and explain why these changes need to be made. These changes are likely to affect them personally, so it's essential that you consider their concerns and feelings in case it leads to further problems.
Assess your business culture- What do your staff value? What are the things they like about their current way of working? If you do this as part of your change management plan, you will be fully aware of the problems you may face and how to potentially deal with them, you'll also know what changes to avoid.
Kotter's Change Management Steps
Establish a sense of urgency
You need to make your workforce share your current concerns and lead them to realise that these changes are important, urgent and for the better. Explain about the state of your market and compliment this with some negative business trends. It doesn't have to all be doom and gloom though, show your team what opportunities there are for the business and show how they could filter down to your staff on a personal level.
Build powerful coalition
Establish a team of people to lead the change. These people must have enough power and respect amongst their subordinates to lead the changes, with the skills to encourage teamwork.
Your obstacles will usually be your staff. If employees are resisting, they must be neutralised. Reward your employees who adapt well to the changes and hopefully the people who are causing problems will commit in order to receive the same rewards.
Create a vision for change and communicate it
If you share your vision clearly, it will be easier for your staff to understand. You need to know exactly what you want from the process and outcome and communicate it so that your workforce are clear and informed. This is a constant and repetitive process which you must persuade your team to embrace your new vision.
Create quick wins
Ensure that some kind of quick result will be shown. This will increase your team's trust in your plan of change. Create a few of these throughout the process and ensure they can be highlighted as a slice of victory!
Corus Strip Products UK decided it was time to change due to poor efficiency and low staff morale- CSP just wasn't competitive enough. Corus worked with their staff on a personal level to avoid resistance. Corus trusted their employees with responsibilities and allowed them to own the change processes.
The company also established clear milestones which meant that all staff could monitor their progress and realise the important 'quick wins'. These easy to review successes also allowed corus to establish new milestones as part of a continuous process. [Find out More]
Build on the change
Don't celebrate your success too early. Although the changes may have been implemented well, this needs to be a continuous process and can probably be made more efficient. Pick up on the small elements that didn't go so well and make sure that you work to improve them next time.
Make it stick
These changes need to be embedded within your company culture. Try to make universal change to ensure that is seen by everyone and becomes change within a collective. This will also deep-root it within your business- New people will see it as part of your company culture and it will only get stronger.
In 1980 flag carrying airline British Airways, was losing money at a rate of £200 per minute. Being funded by the government, it was a nationalised business with no urgency to change. After becoming privatised, the Chief Executive created a new top management team and made relevant cuts and changes that were successful and turned BA into a highly profitable and elite company. Due to a difficult business environment, British Airways' reputation has been declining, but they are still making changes and promote a strong business culture of excellency, which is helping pull them out of difficult times. This process of constant improvement and reaction to business environments highlights the importance of change and therefore change management. [Find out More]
What do changes mean for clients?
Changes within a business can sometimes cause disruptions that pass down to clients and they can be resistant to these changes also. In these cases it's important that you tread carefully. You are paying your employees to cope with your changes, but it's your clients who are paying you for services that suit them. You don't want them going elsewhere.
A staggering 54% of change initiatives are unsuccessful and this is mainly due to the lack of support from employees and bad methods of persuasiveness to move forward. It is difficult to implement change without workforce resistance but if you act formally and think personally, you'll be much more likely to succeed.