What’s happening today is that the ever-evolving consumer expectations for better, faster, and cheaper products – drive the need to reorganize the work culture, just so it can meet demands.
When it comes to making a shift, it is actually the employees who ultimately have to change the way they do their jobs. They are the ones who must be successful in their personal transitions – if they don’t embrace a new way of working, the initiative itself will fail. On the other hand, if employees adopt changes, the transition will be way more fruitful.
This is where we get to Change management, the discipline of how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success and outcomes.
Change management is a methodology that provides a structured approach for supporting your organization to move from its own current states to its own future states. Whatever those might be.
The concept of change management dates back to the early to mid-1900s. Kurt Lewin’s 3-step model for change was developed in the 1940s; Everett Rogers’ book Diffusion of Innovations was published in 1962, and Bridges’ Transition Model was developed in 1979.
Back in the 1990s, change management became well known in the business world, but formal organizational processes became available only from the 2000s.
Change Management has evolved over the past few years, developing and differing Change Management Models, Processes, and Plans – all created to help ease the impact change can have on organizations.
When the company is in a search for actions required to alter the way things are done, Change management is the best place to start the journey.
But, the first thing you should know is when you introduce a change, you are ultimately going to be impacting one or more of the following:
You must agree that the impact is pretty much all-inclusive, so the very process of introducing the change must be done thoroughly and carefully.
So, what is the best way?
Once you have defined your process of change, you need to decide on what tools you want to use to manage it. However, when managing a change control process, you will want to track several data points:
And, mind you, that’s only a simple(r) way to track the full process.
As Change management is a blend of all possible process, tools, and techniques to manage the human side of change, in order to achieve the required business outcome – it incorporates the organizational tools that can be utilized to help individuals make successful personal transitions resulting in the adoption and realization of change.
And all that just so that lasting benefits of a change can be achieved. However, within the Change management, the focus is on the wider impacts of change, particularly on people and how they, as individuals or teams, accept the new situation and move from the current to the new one.
Who’s responsible for identifying change agents? Or defining the re-training plan? Changing job descriptions and employment contracts? Project managers, managers in the business, or the HR department?
It’s not so simple. As usual.
Having in mind that each and every change is different, responsibilities will vary depending on how the change activities and project are organized.
Once when it’s defined in details whose responsibility is each step of the way, only then you can know how things are organized and how will they realize the entire process – you will get to know what’s within your scope, and what is the mode of collaborating with other people, to bring about the change.
Never allow unspoken expectations to occur. Frequently and continuously communicate your vision of the company as a dynamic and evolving organization, where progress and change are inevitable.
No matter if your change is positive or negative, every employee will have the same thought: How will this affect me, as an individual?
Questions can span from Will I have the same responsibilities? to Must I start wearing a suit and a tie to work?
To avoid any fear and the uncertainty, look at the change through the eyes of each department or person. Give them a lot of time to work through their own reactions. Talk to them.
The change cycle starts with feelings of loss, then doubt, then discomfort, followed by discovery, understanding, and finally integration. However, not in that particular order. Or, at least, not with everybody.
Rely on what you know about each individual member of your team, and feel free to reach out personally to those who seem to be stuck in the cycle. Understand and be understood, as you help them make forward progress through the change cycle.
Let’s face it – you will never have 100% of your employees completely on board with big (or sometimes, any) changes. That is why you need to be 100% certain that there are no underminers in your team. If you allow destructive attitudes to take over, you may end up with one or more employees who are determined to make the transition fail. Just to prove the management wrong.
So, be firm and make it clear – each employee has just two options: get on board, or get off at the next stop.
As a leader, the best you can do is to create a culture that embraces change. This way, you will always be half-prepared for whatever is coming. Before you announce the change, we imagine that you have been thinking about it, working through all the details. Then you surely must understand what your employees will have to go through – all the same questions and fears you’ve been working on for months, so be prepared that they’re going to experience a temporary drop in productivity.
That is why you have to respect everyone’s right to have their own reactions, communicate the news with authenticity and empathy, and give everyone time to work through the change cycle at an individual pace. As we said, it takes some courage and just a little bit of patience.
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