The world around us is constantly changing, and it’s not always easy to adapt. While some changes happen naturally, others require a lot of effort on our part. Entrepreneurs feel constant pressure to keep up with the ever-changing business world and deal with its numerous challenges. Everything is rapidly evolving, from technology, laws, and regulations, to economic trends. Refusing to change is like giving up – like it or not, resisting change usually leads to failure. However, wanting to change is not enough. Organizational change initiatives are often ineffective because something isn’t done right. For a change management process to succeed, managers and business leaders must plan, coordinate, and carry out the process flawlessly. Here’s an overview of what change management is and how to do it right.
Organizational change and change management
The term change management covers all kinds of processes that support organizational change. Organizational change refers broadly to everything a business does to change or adjust a critical aspect of its organization, such as company culture, corporate hierarchy, internal processes, technology, infrastructure, etc. Changes can be adaptive or transformational:
- Adaptive changes are smaller and happen gradually. Businesses make adaptive changes to improve their current workflows, products, services, processes, and strategies. One example is hiring a new employee to better deal with increased demand.
- Transformational changes are more significant, less subtle, and occasionally sudden. Examples of transformational change are introducing a new product, a new business division, or moving the entire business to a new location for reasons like easier access, downsizing, or switching to a larger space.
Key steps in the change management process
The process of change management is dynamic and unfolds in a series of stages. If one step isn’t carried out correctly, the whole process is at risk.
Define your goals in advance
The process of change management refers to managing organizational change from start to finish, from the conception and preparation, through implementation, to the end result. The first step is deciding what you want to achieve. For an organization to plan and respond to change in the best possible way, it must clarify its goals and objectives from the beginning.
Typical change management goals are:
- Changing/updating the company’s best practices
- Building a culture of innovation
- Changing the targeted customer base
- Technological improvements
- Implementing knowledge sharing initiatives
- Establishing milestones and incentive programs
Prepare your team for the change that is about to happen
To pursue and implement change, employee involvement is necessary. In the initial phase, the change manager should help employees recognize and understand why this change needs to occur. Employees must become aware of the problems that will arise or continue if nothing changes. You need everyone to be on the same page and fully committed to this mutual goal.
Change usually comes with pros and cons. It is in human nature to resist change, even if there is no good reason for resistance. Listen to your employees’ suggestions, try to answer their questions, and address their concerns. Once they understand the importance of embracing change, your employees will do their part to help the company move forward.
Develop a clear, thorough, and realistic plan
Creating a detailed plan and putting it all on paper is the next step. The plan should include the following:
- Strategic goals that the change will help you achieve;
- How you will measure employee efficiency in this project and the project’s success;
- Who will be responsible for the task of implementing change;
- What steps and actions the project will include.
Furthermore, you will also need to integrate the resources and costs into the plan. It may not be easy, but try to define the required budget and the resources that will facilitate the change process before it even starts. If you fear unexpected expenses, come up with different ways to cut costs in advance. For example, there are smart ways to get rid of unwanted office tools and save money when relocating your business.
In addition, change managers should be able to anticipate any potential setbacks that may occur during the process and come up with the best strategy to avoid, prevent, or overcome such problems should they appear.
Implement the change
Your plan should outline every stage of the change management process – the beginning, the route, and the final destination. Change managers must make sure everyone involved follows these steps and works together toward achieving the goals of the initiative. Also, note that the plan is not set in stone, and change management strategies can be adjusted throughout a project as needed.
There are some useful apps that could make the process more efficient. For example, using time tracking software solutions to manage time more effectively can streamline the entire process. When you know exactly how much time each task takes, you will learn how to adjust your strategy during the process. This way, you won’t have trouble meeting deadlines and achieving the desired results.
Help change stick
The role of change managers is not only to help implement changes but also to prevent going back to the ’’old ways’’. Employees could slip back into their old ways of working, especially during the transition phase, unless there is a proper plan. A return to the status quo can be prevented by embedding changes within the company’s culture and practices through new organizational structures, regular control, and rewards.
A necessary component of any company project is recognizing and celebrating business success. Therefore, don’t forget to acknowledge the achievements of every team and individual and reward their effort. Recognizing success will help the adoption of this change as well as future changes.
Conduct an after-project review
The final step in leading a change management process is conducting analysis and reviewing the project to assess whether the change was implemented successfully and what could be improved in the future. Have you met your goals? How long did it take? Were there any surprises? What went wrong? Even if the project fails, consider it a valuable learning experience that will help you in your future change efforts.