When you throw a pebble into a pond, you create ripples in the water. You get the same ripples when you create a change in your business.
Think about these strategies for managing your change, so that ripples do not become major waves - that ruin your plans!
Start with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve? How will you know if it has been achieved? Who is affected and how will they react? How much can you do yourself and how much help do you need?
You need to have a clear vision - people like to either see/hear or feel the change.
Think about the best time to instigate change. The greater the degree of change needed, the more useful it is to "piggy back" the change on some actual or perceived crisis. For example, improvements in work practices may be more acceptable in times of recession when people are concerned about keeping their jobs.
You may find that there is a natural window of opportunity where the change makes sense to the majority of people. Realise that major change takes time and allow for that. If you attempt to rush through a change, attitudes may not have changed and the change effect may not last in the long term.
Most change initiatives fail because of a lack of recognition of the importance of culture. It is difficult to define, but if change is to work, you need to be aware of "the way we do things around here".
When planning strategies for managing change, aim to involve people in identifying the "cultural web" in your business.
Help people to see the benefits of change in the short term. For example, if you are changing how you interact with customers, publicise some of the positive feedback from them to encourage staff to continue with the new ways of working.
Recognise that effective communication may be the single most important factor in overcoming resistance to change. Communicate your vision and strategic intent clearly. Be honest and encourage two way discussion.
Use a variety of media (1 to 1, 1 to many, circulars, noticeboards etc.) depending on nature and sensitivity of the change. And involve all levels in the business in communicating the change.
Here are some common reasons why strategies for managing change do not work. Take note if you are the change agent, so that you don't make the same mistakes when planning your strategies for managing change:
If you are the change agent responsible for managing a change, follow these steps as well as the change management strategies outlined above to help the change happen smoothly:
1. Hold Management Visioning and Planning workshops using change management tools
2. Agree a clear vision of what change will achieve
3. Assemble a change management team
4. Engage and involve all employees through workshops and other communication methods
5. Amend vision and plan based on discussions with employees
6. Communicate with imagination
7. Manage change project
8. Stay committed until change is established (refrozen)
Different change management methodologies are called for when the business is in real danger. A turnaround strategy is needed, with the emphasis on speed of change, rapid cost reduction and/or revenue generation.
Managers need to be able to prioritise the things that give quick and significant improvements. Here are important steps that need to be taken in a crisis:
You may benefit from the services of a change management consultant in such situations.
Find out about our How To Manage Change Pack
Contains a practical workbook and web video to help you :
Find Out More
Read our latest newsletter - 3 Pitfalls To Avoid When Making New Year Resolutions - And Why Cabbage Diets Don't Work or view our back issues for more concise tips on practical management skills.