Institutional change is a difficult process. Entrenched beliefs, values and habits can take decades to resolve and without adequate supervision, people will inevitably revert to what is most familiar, undoing any efforts to effect change in the workplace.
To help ensure your next change project is successful, here are some tips that you should always consider before moving forward with sweeping organizational changes to your business.
Address change at an individual level
Organization change affects everyone involved to different degrees and those who are passionate about their role are likely to be worried during times of institutional change. Employees may face relocation, pay cuts or unemployment. Addressing the ‘human side’ of change needs to be done through both formal and informal measures. Formal measures include training, new operating procedures, reward systems and more. Informal may include sitting down for a chat with individual people or holding fun team-building exercises. Whatever the solution, constant engagement with stakeholders and employees through every channel possible of communication is a sure-fire way to effect positive, rapid change across all levels of an organization.
Create incentive to change
Organizations will always resist change. Change can be stressful and people are generally more comfortable doing what they’ve always done. Even if everyone is excited by the idea of change, you might find that skills and personalities aren’t compatible with what you’re trying to achieve. You’ll need to give people a reason to really push themselves to change. Often the best way to do this is to start with a top-down approach. Restructure management first as an example of how change can induce positive changes in the workspace.
Assess cultural impact
Work culture is at the core of change management. Company culture is the product of commonly held beliefs, attitudes and values of a workforce. Change projects might involve creating new culture or combing two different cultures. Assuming you’re not working with a new company, one of the primary challenges of change management is cultural change. Sometimes, it’s best not to try change a deeply imbedded culture but rather to learn from it. Figure out what people think, why they behave like they do and what ‘makes them tick.’ Use the existing culture to come up with ways to incentivize change, identify those aspects that are receptive to change and target them first. Then worry about those cultural aspects that are resistant to change
Lead by example
Incentives are directives can only do so much to effect enterprise change. People won’t start cooperating more because a chart tells them to. Manager’s won't start communicating better with teams because they received an email about new strategy. The most critical aspect of change management is ensuring leader’s behaviors reflect the direction of change initiatives. Senior leaders must display the attitudes and behaviors they want employees to adopt, others will only believe in change if they see its’ effects first-hand. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a ‘trick-down’ approach.
It's not just management who should act the part, everyone workplace has informal leaders that others look up to. They might be an especially helpful receptionist, a well-organized project manager or a veteran field-supervisor. These individuals can act as change-ambassadors and help expedite change. Once they have been identified, make sure to let them know they’re recognized as such, a little pride in one’s work can help inspire others.
Always stop at regular intervals to assess the effectiveness of the measures you have put in place. Collect feedback from as many sources as possible including clients, stakeholders and employees. Figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Often, the best way to gauge your success is to approach the aforementioned informal leaders for appraisal. Conduct surveys as necessary and use the information you collect to alter your approach to change management. Every context is unique and what may have worked in the past might not work in the current environment.
It’s important to document all the challenges faced and how they’ve been overcome or perhaps delayed transformation. Regardless of the outcome, change managers will need to learn for experience, then apply that experience to future complications. Change can be confusing, and you’ll greatly benefit from a means to re-orient yourself and keep moving forward.
It’s a simple fact that change projects with dedicated budgets and resources are more successful than those without. It’s wise to invest time into planning resource allocation before attempting to initiate change. To do so, you’re going to need data, feedback and statistics that can help you make best use of the resources available. There are several popular business analysis methods used by organizations across the globe, but it may sometimes be as simple as using a little intuition to dictate your spending habits.