Change is inevitable in day-to-day life, whether we consider our personal or work lives change surrounds us. Organisations of all sizes are in a constant state of change now more than ever. Challenging internal and external factors include but aren’t limited to, economic and political uncertainty, growth, lack of growth, technology developments and shifts in the competitive landscape.
There are a number of key considerations when leading change within an organisation, as highlighted below:
When introducing change it is important that the organisation wants the change. Developing a sense of urgency around the need for change will encourage staff buy-in. By examining the market and the competitive realities of business, the change leader is in a position to identify and discuss opportunities and threats. Sharing this information supports open, honest conversations with staff to explain the necessity for change. If required, a leader can seek support from third parties, such as customers or industry specialists, to help strengthen the case for change.
Convincing people that change is necessary often requires strong leadership. Change managers need to collate a team of influential people whose power comes from a variety of sources such as title, status and experience. The team should consist of a range of people from different departments and levels with varying skillsets. Once this change coalition team is formed, they need to identify key stakeholders and develop a strategy to achieve the change vision.
When a change is first considered there will be many ideas and solutions proposed. Link all these concepts to an overall vision that staff can easily understand to help remember broader details encompassing the change. Successful change requires everyone working towards a common vision, so establishing a clear, concise vision ensures that everyone fully understands what they are being asked to do and why. The change coalition should champion this vision.
Organisational leaders and the change team should promote the vision, leveraging all communication channels to echo sentiments powerfully on a regular and timely basis. Undoubtedly there will be concerns and anxieties, so leaders should talk honestly whilst addressing wider colleagues’ thoughts. Open communication brings the firm along the change journey, thus improving buy-in and the likelihood of successful implementation.
Leaders should champion and empower staff to act on the change and encourage involvement. The team must work towards an agreed plan and seek support from leaders to quickly remove obstacles preventing and limiting progress. Senior management should lead by example employing any new philosophies and approaches.
Success motivates people. When planning a change there will be short and long-term goals. Ensuring there are a few initial ‘quick wins’ that can be easily communicated and viewed by the wider organisation will encourage change momentum and positive attitudes throughout the firm. It is important to celebrate successes and recognise and reward those involved in implementing improvements.
Post-implementation it is useful to complete a project review, benchmarking realised benefits against expectations and lessons learned. Highlight and communicate the good, the bad and the ugly. Understanding what worked well and where further improvements are required helps establish the idea of kaizen, a continuous improvement philosophy. This exercise often highlights further change requirements.
In reality, change is unavoidable and resistance is futile. When planning and implementing change always consider relationships and people, as successful implementation of any change will ultimately start and end there.