Let’s first define a change management process:
A change management process occurs when an organisation makes modifications to its system both internally and externally. In doing so, the organisation is required to take structured steps towards ensuring that the modifications are implemented smoothly, and with the intended outcome.
Managing change is both important and tricky. Change, regardless of its size, is unavoidable as a company continuously grows and updates itself to stay competent. Inevitably, it will also end up affecting the organisation and the people within it. An effective change management process is one which supplies adequate resources to support and prepare its people for the adjustments taking place.
Imagine that your company is implementing new softwares or undergoing a merger. Lots of changes in organisational structure are bound to happen. New responsibilities get introduced, outdated ones get eliminated, and bountiful resources are invested into achieving the desired results. In these scenarios, managing change serves several crucial purposes:
Naturally, the degree of success to which change can be implemented rests largely on the shoulders of a well-put together team. Driving productivity and boosting the morale of your employees are integral to the stability of an organisation that is overseeing new developments.
Wherever necessary, employees should be equipped with the proper training and resources to stay up-to-date with relevant business processes and technologies introduced. Ultimately, the end goal is to ensure that these individuals are able to embrace the change and work together towards the overall betterment of the organisation.
New challenges undoubtedly arise when implementing change. Efforts must be made in identifying resistance, getting to the root of the problem, and eradicating them before proceeding with the next steps. Communication also matters and should be a two-way channel, whereby employees’ needs and concerns are met, and important information is disseminated clearly from above.
Preventing any loss at all is something that concerns most organisations. As a matter of fact, employers want to see a profit when investing in change and evolving to stay relevant. That means making sure preparations are made in advance, funds are appropriately applied where needed, and no resources end up seeping into the cracks.
Ineffective change management occurs in several cases. Firstly, limited internal buy-in can affect the foundation for change. All organisations depend on its members for help, and when bottom-up support is not there, it can serve to greatly destabilise the inner workings of a business. Many times, organisations are so caught up with implementing change that they overlook organisational burnouts.
Insufficient training can be detrimental to the success of change initiatives as well. When employees are not ready to rise up to new challenges or lack the skills/knowledge to do so, they’re bound to face a rocky hill. The process of implementing change can be absorbing, but don’t neglect providing adequate training for your manpower while you’re at it!
Finally, a lack of planning also contributes to the failure of initiating change. When there are no goals that have been set or when progress is not being accurately monitored, it can cause time, effort and other resources to go to waste. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be set to chart developments and a practical timeline can be put in place, alongside setting realistic goals to meet.
According to Dr John P. Kotter, his 8-step change model was developed in 1996 after devoting more than four decades to examining business processes and their strategies. Many organisations have since applied his model to their own procedures. The 8 insightful steps are as follows:
Creating the climate for change is vital to its success. Start communicating your ideas, discussing possible hindrances, solutions, and opportunities to get people engaged, and have the ball rolling. Find out who the key stakeholders are and reach out for help wherever needed. This is how the situation can be transformed from a desire to change, into a demand for change.
As repeatedly emphasized above, change is grounded in teamwork. Collaboration, cooperation, and motivation are needed to make things happen. Put together a strong team with various skillsets and influence who can make a difference. No team is perfect, so be sure to point out (tactfully, of course) any shortcomings that are likely to become an obstacle later on.
You’ll need something tangible and concise, a clear vision, in inspiring individuals to have something positive to work towards. Employees should be able to have some sensing of the strategies you have planned and where they fit into the whole picture.
Not everyone will share the same perspective and understanding as others. In communicating your ideas for change, which can often be complex and detailed, break them down so they can become more digestible for the masses. Communicating a clear vision goes a long way in building your proposal because you never know who has what to offer!
Reward those who endorse and contribute to the initiative, in spurring productivity and encouraging others to put in the effort as well. At the same time, it is necessary to examine any resistance and take the necessary action to remove anything, be it members, processes, or structures that may be standing in the way of greater change.
Don’t become discouraged when you haven’t arrived at the results you were expecting. Change takes time. In the meanwhile, work towards achieving short-term goals as you go. Small victories not only help to boost team spirit, but also give you a greater sense of direction and present fewer risks.
Try not to let up or grow complacent! The end may already be in sight, but you haven’t reached it yet. Continuously innovate to improve on your existing implementations and keep track of what has been done, and what could’ve been done better. There are always areas for growth, you just have to probe hard enough.
Once you’ve managed to fulfill the initiative with success, proceed to cement the change. Newly implemented updates can be susceptible to the changing tides. Keep engaging stakeholders, encouraging team members, and eradicating problematic areas. Remember, what you want is growth that sticks!
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