Change management entails thoughtful planning and sensitive implementation and above all consultation with, and involvement of, the people affected by the changes.
If you force change on people normally problems arise.
Change must be realistic, achievable and measurable. Before starting organizational change, ask yourself:
- What do we want to achieve with this change,
- Why, and how will we know that the change has been achieved?
- Who is affected by this change?
- How will they react to it?
- How much of this change can we achieve ourselves and what parts of the change do we need help with?
- These aspects also relate strongly to the management of personal as well as organizational change.
Do not ‘sell’ change to people as a way of accelerating ‘agreement’ and implementation. ‘Selling’ change to people is not a sustainable strategy for success, unless your aim is to be bitten at some time in the future when you least expect it.
Instead, change needs to be understood and managed in a way that people can cope effectively with it. Change can be unsettling, so the manager logically needs to be a settling influence
Check that people affected by the change agree with, or at least understand, the need for change and have a chance to decide how the change will be managed and to be involved in the planning and implementation of the change.
Use face-to-face communications to handle aspects of organizational change management.
Encourage your managers to communicate face-to-face with their people too if they are helping you manage an organizational change.
Email and written notices are extremely weak at conveying and developing understanding.
If you think that you need to make a change quickly, probe the reasons – is the urgency real? Will the effects of agreeing a more sensible time-frame really be more disastrous than presiding over a disastrous change? Quick change prevents proper consultation and involvement, which leads to difficulties that take time to resolve.
For organizational change that entails new actions, objectives and processes for a group or team of people, use workshops to achieve understanding, involvement, plans, measurable aims, actions and commitment. Encourage your management team to use workshops with their people too if they are helping you to manage the change.
The employee does not have a responsibility to manage change – the employee’s responsibility is no other than to do their best, which is different for every person and depends on a wide variety of factors (health, maturity, stability, experience, personality, motivation, etc.). Responsibility for managing change is with management and executives of the organization – they must manage the change in a way that employees can cope with it. The manager has a responsibility to facilitate and enable change, and all that is implied within that statement, especially to understand the situation from an objective standpoint (to ‘step back’, and be non-judgmental), and then to help people understand reasons, aims, and ways of responding positively according to employees’ own situations and capabilities. Increasingly the manager’s role is to interpret, communicate and enable – not to instruct and impose, which nobody
really responds to well.
Whenever an organization imposes new things on people there will be difficulties. Participation, involvement and open, early, full communication are the important factors.
Workshops are very useful processes to develop collective understanding, approaches, policies, methods, systems, ideas, etc.
Staff surveys are a helpful way to repair damage and mistrust among staff – provided you allow people to complete them anonymously, and provided you publish and act on the findings.
Management training, empathy and facilitative capability are priority areas – managers are crucial to the change process – they must enable and facilitate, not merely convey and implement policy from above, which does not work.
You cannot impose change – people and teams need to be empowered to find their own solutions and responses, with facilitation and support from managers, and tolerance and compassion from the leaders and executives. Management and leadership style and behavior are more important than clever process and policy. Employees need to be able to trust the organization.
The leader must agree and work with these ideas or change is likely to be very painful, and the best people will be lost in the process.