Change is an inevitable part of life, and organizations are no exception.
Change is constant, whether it's a new leadership baton being passed, a merger or acquisition shaking the corporate structure, or an external event, like a global pandemic, abruptly altering the business landscape.
However, as much as it is inevitable, change is often met with resistance - it's human nature to find comfort in familiarity.
But the good news? There's a strategic way to navigate these turbulent waters of transformation. Let's explore some practical strategies to help organizations embrace change and use it as a catapult for growth and innovation.
1. Set Goals for Effective Change
Effectively managing change begins with setting clear, measurable, and achievable goals for change.
Change should not happen for its own sake - this leads to chaos.
Goals act as the guiding star for your transformation journey, providing direction and helping maintain focus amid the chaos.
First, define success in the context of the desired change. Is it increased productivity? Improved company culture? Minimal employee churn? Or something else.
Once these goals are established, create clear markers that indicate successful change. These could be Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as a specific increase in sales, a reduction in employee turnover, or an uptick in positive customer reviews. Remember, these markers should be specific, quantifiable, and time-bound to allow for effective tracking of progress.
Setting goals gives your change initiative direction and provides a sense of purpose for everyone involved.
It helps individuals understand why the change is necessary, what the organization aims to achieve through this change, and how their roles contribute to achieving these goals. It's a powerful way to convert resistance into motivation and propel your organization forward during times of change.
2. Educate People Ahead of Time
People are more likely to trust and accept change if they clearly understand what it involves.
So, one key step in successfully embracing change is educating your people beforehand.
This means providing them with all relevant information as early as possible, from the why behind the change to its expected outcomes.
Take the time to explain why it's important, what will be different once the change takes place, and how it impacts each individual in the organization. Doing so increases understanding and builds trust among employees, and makes them more likely to accept the change with open arms.
Apart from providing information about the upcoming changes, educating people ahead of time also involves teaching them the skills required to navigate through this transition period successfully. This could include providing training on new software or technology, facilitating team-building activities that help increase collaboration, or introducing new concepts such as leaner processes and agile methodologies.
Equipping your people with the right knowledge and tools empowers them to take ownership of the change and use it as an opportunity to grow.
3. Create a Timeline
With goals and education in place, the next step is to create a timeline for your change initiative.
A timeline helps you break down the entire process into achievable steps with specific deadlines - each of which should be connected back to the original goals established at the start.
Start by defining the different stages of change and then assign them specific timeframes. This will ensure that everyone involved is on the same page with regard to expectations, deadlines, and progress updates.
For example, month one could be all about documentation and settling into a new workflow. Month two could be about defining clear activities like marketing campaigns, roles and responsibilities, and more. Month three could focus on seeing the first results of such changes. In this way, time frames and expectations give everyone direction.
Creating a timeline also helps you be more realistic about what can be achieved within a certain period of time - for example, if an upcoming deadline is quickly approaching but isn't feasible, you'll know pretty quickly.
By establishing a timeline with realistic expectations from the get-go, you can avoid many potential roadblocks and ensure your change initiative succeeds.
4. Assign Channels for Communication
Communication is key when it comes to managing change effectively. It allows everyone involved to stay informed, express their concerns, and collaborate more effectively.
Therefore, it's important to assign channels for communication that are accessible and easy to use in order to ensure timely information sharing within the organization.
Set up a dedicated platform or portal where employees can find all the necessary information regarding changes taking place and any updates or progress reports.
This could be an internal blog, website, or dedicated email address for questions and feedback. Apart from these digital channels, you should also provide more traditional methods of communication, such as in-person meetings and physical memos, to ensure that everyone is kept in the loop.
Also, keep a few people as the main go-tos for questions or feedback regarding the changes. This will help ensure that everyone has an accessible point of contact they can turn to in times of confusion and doubt.
5. Celebrate Successes
Last but not least, don't forget to celebrate successes along the way - big or small.
Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work during times of change can go a long way in motivating them and keeping morale high.
You could set up rewards such as monetary bonuses, recognition awards, time-off days, or even small treats like snacks or gift cards. It doesn't have to be anything grand - the key is to make sure that everyone involved knows they are appreciated for their effort and contribution.
Rewarding successes also helps employees stay committed and on track with your change initiative, giving them something to look forward to after all their hard work.
So don't forget to celebrate all successes - no matter how small - during times of organizational transformation. It will help make the entire process smoother, more enjoyable, and ultimately more successful.
6. Create a shared identity or motto
Creating a shared identity or motto for your organization can be an effective strategy in managing change. Humans are inherently social beings, and feeling a sense of belonging to a group can go a long way in mitigating the fear and uncertainty that often accompanies change. In fact, having a shared identity or motto to rally behind can provide employees a sense of unity and purpose, making the transition to a new chapter easier to navigate.
This shared identity could be a phrase that encapsulates the organization's purpose, a quote that resonates with the company's values, or a motto that captures the spirit of the transition.
For example, let's say that your company name is 'Keyjam'. You could call your people 'Keyjammers' and if you're onboarding a large number of people, you could say things like 'Welcome to the Keyjam family'.
However you go about it, make this shared identity or motto meaningful so that it communicates togetherness. Also, this shared identity or motto should be communicated across all channels and included in all change-related communications.
By doing so, you imbue your employees with a sense of purpose and direction during a potentially turbulent time. This can help reduce anxiety and resistance, foster a stronger sense of community, and empower your workforce to embrace the change rather than fear it. After all, change is easier to accept when we feel part of something larger than ourselves.
Embracing change in business can be daunting but with the right strategies in place, it doesn't have to be. We've looked at several strategies here to make change easier and more powerful. Follow them and you'll see an easier path to making positive growth happen in your organization.