While change is an issue we face more than any other, it is is also something we have the most difficulty dealing with.
Between identifying the actions needed to handle change, to getting your entire staff to embrace new ways of doing things, change management is a daunting practice that many managers dread.
If you are undergoing a period of transition in your company or industry, here are some things to keep in mind to help streamline the change process.
Identify the Problem
In order to start the change process, you must first identify a problem that needs to be addressed. Due to new technologies, trends and changes in consumer demand, this may require you to be proactive in identifying targets for change before your competitors do, which can be difficult.
You can identify existing problems by:
- Conducting surveys
- Interviewing staff
- Conducting a Root Cause Analysis
Spotting emerging trends can be a lot more difficult. This may require you to monitor:
- Consumer blog posts
- Discussion boards
- Google trends for search patterns
This can help you see what customers are beginning to ask for, but are not getting.
Make the Problem Known
Your staff will never take any change initiative seriously if they see nothing wrong with the current way of doing things.
This is why it is very important the identified problem is communicated with the staff so they understand the need for change. If they understand that there is a problem, they will be more than willing to assist in the change process.
Involve Staff in Change Process
It can prove to be very difficult to get your staff to embrace change initiatives. The best way to motivate your staff to accept these changes is to involve them in the entire change process.
Your staff is a huge resource of information. Use their knowledge to your advantage. Ask them their opinions and advice on how to solve identified problems. You can also conduct surveys, interview them or even observe their daily work.
You should also involve them in the decision making process. Inform your staff that their opinions are very important and will be factored into the decision.
Once your staff has has helped to decide on the solution, they should also be involved in implementing the change. This is just as important because you want your staff to have ownership over the entire change process.
Watch for Competitor’s Successful Reactions
If your competitors have identified a change or trend before you, use your their actions as a guide for what initiatives you should take.
If this is the case, your competitors have likely already experienced failure with certain actions and success with others. Watch for this and plan accordingly.
Hire Change Consultants
It may be difficult to do a lot of this yourself, as getting an entire company to change in an organized way can be hard to do.
Consider hiring a change consultant if the change is especially far-reaching. This will help your company to adjust more quickly, and the consultant will be able to advise you on what specific actions to take, especially with structure and incentives.
You can’t expect your staff to take change seriously or implement the change successfully if they aren’t trained in the new way of doing things.
If you don’t offer training for your staff, it won’t seem like a priority. Ensure that the training is relevant to your staff’s daily tasks and will be useful right away.
Ensure Your Structure is Aligned With Your New Strategy
If you really want these changes to stick, you need to ensure that you restructure your organization as necessary to complement the new changes that are made. This may even include new management positions, new departments or departmental restructuring.
You also want to ensure your incentive system reflects the changes that were made. Your changes won’t stick very long if your employees are being rewarded for doing things the old way. Reward them for doing things the new way and the changes will be embraced with ease.
New Changes Must First be Embraced by the Top
If you want your staff to embrace any changes, your top management (including yourself) must embrace these changes first. This is because your staff won’t take any change seriously enough if the management isn’t practicing it.
Not only must the top management embrace these changes first, they must also be the ones who espouse these new changes the most. Your management must be the very embodiment of these new changes so your staff sees how important it really is.
Layoffs Don’t Help
In the face of new trends, economic troubles, loss or any difficulty, companies deal with change through layoffs.
What these companies don’t realize is that WORK doesn’t disappear. So if you layoff staff, the work remains and must now be the responsibility of your remaining staff members.
The remaining staff members are already feeling guilty as being the “survivors”…thus they won’t be that motivated to take on the extra work. This will result in a loss of productivity, worker morale and your once bright and vibrant culture will begin to erode.
In short, don’t layoff. If you need to cut expenses, involve your staff and ask them for advice. Inform your staff that you need to cut costs in order to prevent layoffs. You’d be surprised at how much they’d participate. They’ll be grateful that they aren’t being forced out of a job, and will look for every way to save money for the business.
Are there any other useful tips for leading change? Anything to watch out for?