“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” —Arnold Bennett
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
Fight it all you want, change is inevitable. When we fail to embrace change we cause ourselves undue stress and waste valuable time and resources. Why change? Change becomes necessary when the needs of our organization, customers, or employees change.
How We Change
Once we realize that needs have changed, and therefore we need to evolve; we must set a realistic change goal. Every level of management must roll-up their sleeves and get involved. Employees must understand and believe the reason for the change and the benefit to them personally. The organization must be committed to pursuing the long-term vision and the change requirements associated with it. Here are four factors that will help you manage change.
Have a clear purpose. How will this change influence, improve, and impact others? What problem are you solving or what are you improving on? How will it benefit you customers? How will employees benefit? How does this change fit into the overall organizational objectives? People’s main concern is their own well-being; your employees need a clear understanding of your purpose and how they will be impacted by the change.
Create a proper plan for implementing change. Spend extra time formulating a good plan. Build flexibility in the plan. Set clear goals, identify milestones, and outline the timeframe. Ensure that goals are ambitious, yet attainable. What scope does the plan cover and what are the deliverables? Identify what success looks like. Determine what relationships and resources you will need to accomplish your goals. Do your plans for change fit with the vision of the organization? You must determine a budget for the plan. Specifically identify who will be accountable for each task. Then, bring the right team of people together to implement the plan. Check results early and often to ensure you are not veering off course.
Develop an organizational culture that embraces change. Your culture should encourage a sense of responsibility, camaraderie, and generosity. Encourage the development of strong relationships throughout your organization. Let employees share in the leadership responsibility. Make sure you have the right people serving in the right roles. Provide engaging work for your employees and allow every employee to use their expertise in achieving shared goals. Build loyalty by promoting a positive culture that encourages employee participation. You should encourage innovation and allow for mistakes. Help employees develop collaborative and decision-making skills. Promote transparency. Create an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect where teams are motivated and engaged.
Successful change management is more dependent on communication than on strategy. Make sure you are clearly communicating with your employees early and often. Set an example of the level of communication that is expected. Talk truthfully about change. Be genuine in both your words and actions. Clearly outline ownership and accountability. Promote a common understanding of the long-term vision of the organization as well as the immediate goal. Listen more than you speak and ensure that you understand what’s being said. Communication is the only way to succeed. If your communication isn’t reaching your team, you won’t be successful at managing change.
Change is inherently uncomfortable, but the fact is we must change or we become obsolete. Failing to recognize the need for change can result in wasted time, energy, and resources. You can minimize the fear and resistance associated with change by defining and sharing a clear purpose for the change; by setting realistic goals; and evaluating who and how others with be affected by the change. Communicate the purpose, goals, and benefits to all parties that will be impacted. Always be transparent and open in your communication. Develop a culture within your organization that is agile and embraces change. Create a plan for the implementation of change and outline how success will be measured. Engage employees in the process of identifying the need for change, formulating a plan, and implementing the change. When employees are invested in the change process managing change can be a positive, transforming experience.
© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli
Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.