We talk a lot about what to change on this blog, whether that be something smaller like which social media network to focus your marketing on or massive ways of reorienting your business in light of new technologies or market forces. What we are yet to discuss is how best to manage that change. It’s all well and good directing your employees to change their behaviour, but without the proper support, well-communicated reasoning for the changes and clear instructions for new processes, what was intended as an innovative step forward can turn chaotic very quickly. Here are some ways of managing changes.
Appoint a sponsor
Having someone who can be a one-stop shop for any questions or concerns employees may have about the process can alleviate a lot of the uncertainties they may have. This individual would be responsible for procuring resources and planning implementations. Of course, this person should not be expected to do this all by themselves but treating it as a project with an ‘owner’ is a great way to keep everything under control in what may be a chaotic and unpredictable but also very exciting time for your business. In larger organisations this may not be possible but having one for each department will have the same effect.
Tell an inspiring story
Framing the changes as something positive and to be celebrated will start you on the right foot when beginning your internal communications on the subject. Don’t present the current issues with the company as something that is any particular person or team’s fault either, rather position it is an adaptation to new market conditions or ‘future-proofing’. This will position the changes as an exciting thing that will bring the business more success and provide new opportunities to employees. Paint a picture of what the business will be like in one year, two years and five years to better illustrate the goals of the change, this will help employees envisage the journey ahead and their role in it.
Plan the change in stages
In reality, change comes in increments. You’re not going to go home on Friday and implement every new process or operation on a Monday. Think about your goals for the change and establish what the fundamental building blocks are for that change. Are you trying to attract more young people to the business? Then perhaps a rebrand is the key building block, but not if you need to launch a new product or service to do it. Are you trying to become more efficient and implement new technology? Then your operations are going to need to change first. Establishing the order in which change will be implemented allows for any kinks to be ironed out before the next stage begins, ensuring a smooth transition.
It is key that employees are involved as early as possible. While the nature of the change and the aims will be decided by the board and management, consulting employees helps them feel involved and will assist in dispelling any reservations they may have. Organisations are naturally disinclined towards change and even more so when it feels as though it is being imposed on them, so hold sessions for teams to discuss changes to their day to day process and operations. Avoid phrases like ‘attitude change’ or ‘shifting mindsets’ as these imply a fault on the part of the employee, whereas they have just been operating in the current environment and doing their jobs.
If you’re a small business, or perhaps you have enough on your plate with running the business as is, bringing in consultants to assist with the process can be a lifesaver. Here at minc, we offer change management services to businesses of all services.
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