No matter how you view the starting point, the reality is all organisations need to learn to manage change successfully in order to remain competitive. Managing change on the job is usually challenging for HR staff to navigate, particularly at smaller organisations.
Managers are crucial for keeping employees engaged and productive, and they can play an important role in helping leaders navigate change. Managers are also, unfortunately, the most neglected group within the organisation when it comes to developing skills that mean the difference between a failed and successful change. Every manager needs to know their role, and many must step up their game when working with people, particularly during times of change.
Leaders and managers must set employees up to make changes, give time for messages to sink in, and provide opportunities for them to give feedback before implementing changes. Leaders must bring people along with the cause of change, which is often challenging to do because of the long-held habits and beliefs. The most successful changes happen when leadership and employees truly feel the need for change, see a compelling opportunity for the change being pursued, and trust and believe the leadership will deliver it in the best possible way.
Effective change does not happen just by accident, and whatever plans you put into place must fit within the boundaries of your organisation. To do this, you can also take expert advice from the change management consultant to help you lead the change successfully. Please remember that for any major change to occur within your organisation, spend time defining it to your stakeholders, building a strong business case, and getting buy-in to your plan for what needs to change and how it will improve your organisation. A good change management plan depends on strong communication, which is about more than just laying down your plans for change; it is about seeking an understanding of what needs to be addressed while your organisation is going through the transition.
A change management plan needs to clearly state areas of the business that will be affected, as well as its impact on customers, suppliers, stakeholders, and employees. Defining the scope of the change management plan, and identifying the reasons for change management, would really help to mitigate the risk of the new structure, leaders, or effort being rejected altogether.
One reason organisations wonder what is change management is that they might have experienced unmanaged change–when initiatives failed because they were not planned for. One of the difficult parts of change in organisations is that it often comes in stages or involves some degree of secrecy from the operational team or specific individuals.
While changes will typically affect the whole workforce, the decision on how to approach and handle the change in an organisation is the responsibility of executive teams and HR leaders. As the leader, your job is to set the tone with your team and to be prepared to handle the changes in the organisation as efficiently as possible, helping your employees to understand and cope with the changes as best you can. Leaders set themselves and their companies up to effectively manage organisational change when they engage employees proactively and make sure communications are clear, consistent, and transparent. This requires great leadership skills, which can not be developed overnight. Participating in workshops or using online tools such as the Life styles inventory circumplex can help them increase their self-awareness level to make better decisions.
Moreover, aligning employer and employee perspectives with transparency and clear communication leads to commitments going both ways, increasing retention and engagement as changes occur. Including employees of diverse roles and perspectives at an early stage in a change management process is an effective way to resolve issues, test solutions, and set up future ambassadors that will support colleagues adjusting to a new space.
While there are many ways leaders can approach change, some of the best strategies for managing change include planning, transparency and candour, communication, and employee involvement. Change management goes beyond eliminating resistance in a systematic manner; it includes engaging employees and making a strong case to actively handle the changes.
It is critical that leadership mitigates the likelihood of resistance by communicating the importance of the change, leading teams, and providing a clear vision that will help guide the transformation. Effective communication about change management provides clarity about why the changes are needed and mobilises employees with a sense of urgency about the change.
If the communication is overly focused on details and technicalities and does not connect the change with organisational goals, it will not resonate with employees. Especially when a change is going to be significant, it is useful to be as transparent with employees as possible–even if you cannot share every detail with them, being upfront about the pieces that you are able to share (and clearly explaining what they are going to be) will go a long way toward helping your employees feel more comfortable. If you spend the time talking to employees, you will be able to get a sense of their mindset and explain how the change fits with their professional goals.
Adapting to change is not linear, and it is also important to acknowledge that certain groups of employees will need more support and training than others. Managing change means working closely with employees and setting clear goals for how to handle the change. Once the organisation starts considering the load it is carrying on itself in terms of changes, as well as the aggregate, collective effects on employees, it can start managing its portfolio of changes more effectively.
An organisation needs continual reinforcement of changes in order to prevent employees from slipping back into the previous ways of doing things. Leading employees through periods of change requires art, insight, skills, good listening, and effective communication. Change is a constant, and developing a template that works for your company is the best way to handle the human aspects of change while setting everyone up for success.
Whether you are trying to adopt new technology, revamp your business processes, enhance your customer experience, or embark on a digital transformation, having a coherent process to handle change can help smooth change over and ease transitions throughout your organisation. When deliberate change management practices are put into place, your change process might not be flawless, but it is much more likely that you will get employee buy-in, and eventually, you will realise the business transformations and outcomes that change is intended to produce. Having a plan which engages people at an early stage, defines the processes and outcomes for implementing change, and allows flexibility when needed is a powerful tool that gives you the structure needed to help guarantee the success of your change initiatives.
In a nutshell, as change is the only constant in the business world, effectively managing change by taking all the stakeholders on board is necessary for the success of the business in the long run.