I’ll be the first to say it, change is hard! It’s easy to get comfortable in your day-to-day and then WHAM! There’s a policy change, a new technology in play, or some other organizational change that turns your nice, paved workflow into a bumpy construction zone. Yes, we’re creatures of habit, but few successful organizations keep doing things the same way forever. That’s why the essential part of change management is about managing people through their anxieties, fears, and expectations.
If you and your staff see your organization’s future state positively (that new technology solution is going to make things easier in the long run, or remodeling the office will give everyone more privacy), you’ll have less push back. Recognizing that resistance goes hand-in-hand with change can also help you manage expectations, including your own. Remember every individual impacts the whole, and when you have cooperation from most of the participants, the process is easier to manage.
According to Inc, there are 3 primary stages for a company making a strategic change:
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Each change in your organization will require a little something different each time. Technology changes vs. a culture shift can require different communication avenues and styles. Depending on the result you are trying to achieve, it may need different leaders and qualities to inspire the project.
The most important thing is identifying what type of impact the change will make on your people and find out how you will maintain stability for employees.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Assess your risk. Analyze your current state and your future state. Ask your leaders, who will be impacted the most by the change? Anticipating your obstacles can help you to strategize and account for them. Go down your organization from top to bottom to assess the significant impacts on every department.
- Map current to future state. Visually lay out a transition map from your organization’s current state, through the transition, to your organization’s future state. Highlight the potential benefits of each phase. Visual mile markers can also help motivate individuals as you move through the stages and encourage a sense of accomplishment.
- Rely on your leaders. Inspiring your teams through your leaders can go a long way. If it’s a culture shift, you’ll want to rely on your HR department or a leader who is a social butterfly to bring everyone together. A technology shift will require your IT team to lead implementation, devise a communication strategy, and champion the vision.
- Manage expectations from start to finish. Having a strategic internal communication plan is a good idea. Communicate through emails, presentations, and team members. If your employees can anticipate what changes will occur, with plenty of time to process what needs to happen to reach the intended goal, it will make the process less painful for them.
Organizational change requires you to look at how every team (made up of individuals) contributes to the end result. Your people are responsible for putting the wheels in motion and will be hammering each nail alongside you through the transition. Be patient if you feel resistance.
I’ve been through a few organizational changes myself involving acquisitions, a privacy and security clean up, and a culture shift. I’ve found the most successful ones put the people first.
Through times of stress and change, if you can keep your people inspired and invested plus have an airtight plan and great leaders, you’ll reach your future state before you know it!