Change Management – Ignore it and invite chaos!

Many of us can recall when things went badly in the roll out of a significant change event and we can identify, usually in hind sight, how it could have been prevented. We know that people interpret events based on their own experiences, its impact on their lives and their understanding of the circumstances surrounding the events. If there is little trust in the organization they are more likely to be suspicious of the true motives of the transformation efforts.

Managing change is not an easy exercise and it should not be taken for granted that the reasons are obvious and that everyone will understand. There needs to be a deliberate effort to engage staff, listen to their concerns, debate options and clearly answer key questions, even if they seem to be redundant. There should be clarity and consistency in answering the following questions:

  • Why do we need to do this? – the circumstances that show there is problem with the current situation,
  • What is likely to happen if the changes are not made? – how the organization and staff will be negatively affected,
  • What future state are we trying to achieve? – how the organization and staff will benefit in future,
  • What challenges will we face while going through the change? – the departments, processes, staff and short term issues that may arise,
  • Will staff be displaced or terminated – the positions that could be affected,
  • How will the management and staff be supported through the change? – the assistance, training and incentives for achieving key milestones.

This key information is captured in a plan that is communicated to the entire organization. Regularly scheduled update sessions with a standard agenda needs to be arranged and followed. These sessions discuss the plan, the actual progress, changes, challenges and issues, how they are being dealt with as well as any new concerns. It is a good idea to preview these discussions with the management team to understand how their team will be impacted and approach developed to present options before the wider team update is held. Departments that are significantly impacted need to have separate sessions to discuss how their issues will be addressed.

Ongoing engagement that is transparent and supportive of the staff builds trust and improves the success of the transformation efforts. These update sessions are great opportunities for feedback and should be welcomed by management to address issues in a proactive way before they fester and derail the transformation efforts. Staff should be allowed to vent and be engaged in logical discourse and debate about the issues. It is still the responsibility of the management to make the appropriate decisions in the best interest of the organization’s survival and future success.

The changes are likely to be more readily accepted if there is meaningful consultation, transparency, consistency and well thought out reasons for taking the required actions. Data that is credible should be used to support reasons for actions. However, this may pose a challenge for some organizations that are not yet data driven. It is never too late to identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and begin to measure and report on them to sensitize the entire organization about how the organization is performing.

The management of change is really about evaluating the impact of the change on the lives of management and staff and proactively engaging them in developing strategies to successfully managing the impact. Effective communication is the main tool and technique for successful engagement.

Vol 5, April 9, 2017

A blog of ideas, information and good practices that help transform operations processes and business results.

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