Change Management and How to Do It Right
Change is a constant phenomenon they say. In today’s context, organisations that are able to effectively steer change are the ones who are riding the success wave. This change could be related to technology, change in organisation structure, change by way of introduction of new policies, new regulations, new way of working, employees work preferences, in some cases change in location, etc. And they also say change is the most difficult thing to bring about – especially if it is behavioural in nature. So how do you introduce change at the workplace? In corporate terms, how do you approach Change Management for your organisation?
Change management is the process of helping individuals and your organisation transition from the current state to a desired state.
As seamless as you plan these things since people are very mood-based and emotion-driven resource, you might have to factor in a certain amount of resistance to any and every change you introduce. Not always would people be cooperative or willing to understand. In such cases, how can you reduce resistance? Can just sending out an email or order get the work done? Is there another way to tackle this?
Indeed there’s a way to reduce the resistance of your employees towards change. This process of change management, however, needs a certain amount of thought and meticulous planning to make it happen. You need to plan it in a systematic and organised way so that the change is not just implemented but also accepted by the teams. Taking care of their needs and expectations also forms a crucial part of this whole exercise.
Here are 8 steps to approach change management while managing employees’ expectations
1. Start from the top of the pyramid
Every change has a specific purpose. And more often than not, it’s more than one reason in a corporate environment. However, the trick to an effective change management process isn’t on how well your top management has understood the reasons, but how well they have communicated it to their teams.
The purpose of the change needs to be clearly explained and how it ties with the vision of the company. Once convinced and confident about this, your managers would then be able to share the same vision with the rest of the team and thus contributing to reduce any resistance that comes up.
2. On-board your organisation’s influencers
Influencers form a crucial part of the change management process. Influencers are not the most popular employee; but the one who other employees turn to for support, advice or with grievances. They have a credibility and tact that accompanies them in their words and action. An organisation could have many influencers and they could be across the hierarchy.
Having them on-board would send a positive message to your employees. Your influencers could also have an interactive session with your employees as to how the change would affect the business and their lives in particular. Having someone from their level and stature endorse the change could bring in the trust of the employees and fade away their resistance to a large extent.
3. Involve key stakeholders in deciding how to roll out the change
Bringing about any change is never a one-person or one-department job. Even though it is your signature that validates it, it requires the entire team effort to actually implement it. For smooth and effective implementation, you need to identify and involve the key stakeholders at the right stages. Stakeholders are key employees who will play a key role in bringing about the change. Their role in the organisation or their department will be the epicentre of this change.
Having the views of your stakeholders will help you understand from them the challenges you might face while implementing a particular change. This would help you address it beforehand by empowering them with solutions when the change is actually rolled out. Their contributions may sometimes even throw light on certain aspects that may have been missed out in your earlier planning and thus could be improved before implementation.
4. Set smaller milestones
A new change means a new way of working. Chances are some of your present processes might, therefore, become obsolete. No matter the type of change, adjusting to the new process requires a certain amount of time for your entire organisation. And keep a track on the progress is key to ensuring a smooth implementation. How do you track the progress? The answer is simple, by setting smaller targets.
For example: If you have to roll out a new employee grievance committee in your organisation by making an announcement one day, sharing a long list of must-know information which no one can register at one go might not be the best way. Instead consider breaking it down into small steps which are communicated to all employees on an on-going basis. It will help build support and ensure smooth implementation.
Smaller milestones ensure that your team is constantly having a positive feeling of meeting it. This works as a motivation for both the employees as well as the managers. You, on the other hand, can monitor the change in a more detailed manner because of these detailed reports. In case there is some difficulty, you could always intervene and get it rectified within the time frame.
5. Advertise your goals and emphasise the benefits
Communication is the central to bringing about change. The more you communicate, the higher the chances to bring about change with least resistance. Often organisations make the mistake of limiting the communication to employees, probably due to the fear of facing resistance and having to justify over and over again to counter resistance. However, not communicating is a faulty approach because it leads to office gossip due to lack of information and creates a negative vibe, in other words ‘resistance’.
Advertising your goals is also very essential while bringing in a change. Let your employees know what you are planning to achieve. This could be as specific as expecting a 10% rise in the annual revenue based on the sales closed using the new mode you just introduced. Being this specific would tell your employees that you are confident about the methods and numbers and also the progress measuring parameters are known to all. You need to also communicate as to how the employees would benefit from this. Motivating them by telling them what’s in it for them makes them feel cared for and you would also earn their loyalty in the long run.
6. Don’t impose the change
Taking the above point a little further, not only is communication critical; but how it is done is as important. Change that is introduced rather than imposed has a much more success rate than the latter. This I can testify by our experience of working with multiple organisations and people over a decade. Many employees said that the reason they resist a change was that of it being ‘imposed’ in a certain way by their superiors.
Just like you would prepare for a client meeting, make a presentation, anticipate questions, probably prepare a script; likewise your managers and team leaders need to be prepare themselves under your supervision so that they convey the change to their teams in an acceptable manner. Consider this as an internal pitch presentation to ensure employees are on-board with the change so that productivity is not hampered.
Often due to lack of preparation, the manager or team leaders are at a loss of words. They may even end up contributing to the resistance due to lack of communication or by simple saying the management wants this change. Therefore, the way a change is ‘introduced’ often goes a long way in reducing resistance towards it.
7. Recognise and Honour Reactions to Change
There can hardly ever be one echoing response to change. You will always have some people valuing and embracing it while few others resisting it. And then there are some who would just be on the fence of these two extremes and hoping on either side. All these reactions are valid. You need to recognise and honour each of them in order to lead them towards acceptance.
You need to be accessible to your employees when they need your support. Having a specific day in a month dedicated to this ensures the employees that you are concerned about them too. Engaging with them while you walk into your office or during lunch and other times would help build trust among them. This way when you later intend to introduce a change, they would be more open towards understanding and accepting it rather than merely resisting the inconvenience.
8. Make It Easy for Your Team to Seek Resources
As a leader, it may not be necessary to always handhold your employees into the change. Sometimes just providing them with the autonomy and encouragement to ask for your help when needed would do the trick. You need to empower your employees to seek out the resources they need to improve their job and accordingly become responsible contributors towards accepting the change. This could be in the form of a manual, or a mentor to a group of employees or a specific team just to resolve queries related to the new change. Ensuring that the resources are easy to find will help the people in approaching the change more positively and with lesser resistance.
At Yellow Spark, we understand the importance of change management and can help you effectively communicate it with your employees. With structural change management process, you can ensure that all your new initiatives face minimum resistance and are widely accepted by employees across your organisation. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a change management strategy that could help you in your business.
Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.