10 Principles For Successful Change Management
No organisation in the modern world has a commitment to stability: they all would like some stability but the world is simply not wired in that way. Shareholders want returns on their investment but also want increasing returns which the puts the focus onto continued growth rather than a predictable and low return. Prices fluctuate, markets fluctuate, established staff leave, new staff are appointed, innovation makes its feelings felt and we constantly compete with our rivals.
To make a success of change what is needed is to fully understand and evaluate the human impact of the change process rather than just having a cold focus upon strategy and operational factors.
Long term structural change has four features:
- The scale of the change
- The magnitude of the change
- The duration of the change
- The strategic importance of the change
Change only really happens however when it means something to the employees delivering the change process.
So, what are we to do, always remembering that there is no magic formula and each change and each organisation represents a unique set of events and circumstances.
- What are the human considerations here? New skills, new capabilities and a new approach have to be delivered but this is a challenge for the many. Morale and motivation are put at risk. Establish a formal timetable for change to happen and publish this widely so everyone knows and understand what is going on and be realistic about its content and timeframe!
- Change from the top! When change comes staff will always look to senior management as a point of reference and as a source of support and clarity in difficult or challenging times! It is essential that senior managers speak with one voice and point only one way in terms of guidance and direction. The team must work well while recognising that stress associated with the change will be on their individual mind-sets so observed culture, ritual and behaviour will be an important aspect of delivering the change successfully.
- Make sure everyone is a part of the process: identify key players at each level and make sure that they are fully committed to the process. These staff will be a key motivational force in delivering change in a way that senior management can never hope to achieve, which is a cast-iron way of identifying future leaders and managers!
- Explain the case for change: do this well and people will accept the change but doing this badly results in many long-running problems of resistance and low morale/motivation/productivity. Be clear on what the reality of the situation actually is, make it clear that the road ahead may be challenging but that the future is bright and finally present a blueprint of what the future looks like with measurable outcomes at each stage of the process.Above all else be brutally honest!
- Secure buy-in: create a momentum for change that is appealing and which hoovers up the staff that might be wavering about the change. If you involve staff in solving some of the problems that the change will create you are far more likely to have a smooth transition phase. Make sure that all staff have a shared destiny!
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate: never assume that staff have a full understanding of the issues and that they see the need for change. Communicate core messages on a regular basis and drip this into the consciousness of the staff at every opportunity. Timely, practical and illustrative communication may take time to plan and deliver but its benefits are huge in the long-term.
- Play to the culture of the organisation: understand how things work in the organisation outside the formal lines of authority and planning. As the pace of change gathers speed this will be very important in identifying areas of resistance and also of support for the change process and outcomes.
- Use the cultural landscape: use the underlying behaviour sets to highlight successful change outcomes. Recognise the combinations of shared history, explicit values and beliefs, common attitudes and opinions to your advantage. There may be a need to create a new culture especially if this involves a merger or an acquisition, a need to change the culture and possibly to reinforce an existing culture – use thought, activity, influence or personal charisma to make this a reality!
- Expect the unexpected: change is never a smooth process! The trick here is to continually reassess the impact of the change and the willingness of the organisation and its staff to meet the challenge. Use real-time data and information to keep up to date on the process and to spot areas where change is not going as expected or planned. Never be afraid to make amendments if the need arises – to not do so would be very foolish as long as the desired change objectives will be met.
- Walk the floor and press some flesh: staff have a commitment to the organisation and want to feel part of the process, hence it is vitally important to be seen and to be explaining and “living” the change. Be honest and as explicit as possible in explaining what is going on and use visible rewards to make the change stick. People matter and are the glue in bringing together plans and outcomes!
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