With the beginning of a new decade and a fast-moving and highly competitive external business environment, many organizations are in a constant state of making changes. What this means for most organizations is that workplace processes, systems, and strategies go through continuous changes and diversification for them to remain competitive. Given this reality, many organizations will have to create an effective change management process that can stand the heat of the volatile economic space.
Change as we know is most times met with resistance especially at the initial stage and so with a bad change management approach there is a 70 percent chance of failure to meet set objectives. This usually happens because the people, who are the most important asset in an organization, tend to fiercely resist change programs especially when not carried along. Conversely, when these people are carried along they become invested in the change process and this leads to the success of the change management initiative to deliver the expected results.
What really is Change management? It can be succinctly defined as the process of preparing and providing guidelines for your employees in adapting to changes that can occur in order to meet set organizational goals. There are usually 3 levels of change management; Individual Change Management, Enterprise change management and Organizational Change Management.
For the purpose of this article we will be focusing on using effective Organizational change management strategies to get desired results. This level of change involves first identifying the group of people who will need to change as the result of the project at hand, and also define what ways they will need to change. It also involves the development of a plan/procedure for ensuring concerned employees receive the awareness/training, mentoring and leadership they require in order to successfully change.
It is important to note that there is no one methodology that fits every company, but there are sets of practices and strategies that can be adopted to fit any organization. in this article, we will be looking at top three strategies;
- Articulate the Change; this simple yet very salient first step can be easily missed when planning a change management program. Like with every other successful project/program, the planning phase is crucial and this is not different here. It is very important for the owners of this process to clearly define what type of change is occurring and align it with the set organizational/business goals. The latter is very important as it greatly determines the value of the change to the direction of the business. At this planning phase is also where you determine the impacts of the change at the various levels in the organization. Some questions to guide you in this planning phase includes, what area/aspect do we need to change? how important is this change to the business? Who or what will this change affect the most?
- Address the People Side Proactively: knowing how important the human factor of this process is, there has to be a formal approach for carrying the employees along on this change journey and it should be developed early. There has to be an effective communication strategy in place that will determine a timeline for how the change will be communicated, what the key messages to be communicated are, the means of communication and how to manage the feedback gotten. Ensuring the top management is fully involved is also key at this stage. The leaders must be seen to embrace the new approaches first, as this will challenge and motivate the rest of the team. An awareness training is also important in this stage in order to teach the skills and knowledge that is required to operate efficiently as the change is unraveling. Different methods adopted could be one on one training sessions, organizing knowledge sharing sessions, using e-learning platforms, on the job training, coaching and so on. A simple yet effective reading material that could help prepare your team for this change journey is the New York Best Selling Novel, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.
- Continuous Reassessment of the Change Management Model: like with any process that is designed for success, a continual assessment for improvement should be put in place. With this in place, you are prepared for the unexpected given the unexpected response of people and the ever-evolving external market forces.
Given the high-level structure that most management system standards currently have with the recurring requirement of planning for changes, the need to have a change management process in place as a forward-thinking organization cannot be overemphasized. Thus, to effectively manage change, change leaders should be willing to merge both the soft side (people) and the hard side (plans and processes) of change management and continually reassess the impact and the readiness of their organization to adopt the next wave of transformation.