Change is an emotive subject, and something we all respond to differently. Because of this, managers need to recognise the different responses needed to enable their workforce to move through understanding, adopting and ultimately embracing change. Here Alexandra Poole of the iNNiTi effect gives her top ten tips.
- Create a burning platform. Change cannot be for change’s sake. Why are you doing this? Why is it important to the business? What happens if you don’t? And what is in it for everyone?
- Set a clear vision. People need direction. Where are you going? In what timeframe? What do you expect everyone to contribute? In what way? Link to your company values if you have them.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! People need information to understand, there’s no such thing as too much. Provide regular, clear and open communications, in as many forms as you can. Think bulletins, newsletters, town hall sessions, noticeboards etc. Make sure your words and behaviour are consistent.
- Create the right environment for change. Create a daily attitude to making small incremental changes through the implementation of managing daily improvement tools. Ensure managers support these with the attitude that every failure is an opportunity to improve.
- Build effective cross-functional teams. For sustainability, those effected by change need to be involved in designing the solution. Breaking out of the tendency to operate in departmental teams will build relationships and ensure solutions defined deliver value to Customers downstream (internal and external) as well as are efficient by getting the right inputs from Suppliers upstream.
- Challenge resistance. Resistance is to be expected, but should not be ignored. You need to take the time to understand the reasoning behind the resistance to properly address it. Make sure you manage people’s expectations, don’t over-promise or gloss over the difficulties of implementing change…if it were easy, everyone would be doing it! Recognise some people will never come along the journey with you, make sure you have a plan for dealing with that.
- Provide training for skills development. You shouldn’t presume people know what to do, if they did, they’d have already being doing it! It’s OK not to have all the answers, but training and coaching needs to be provided at every level to ensure the critical mass of the Organisation has both the hard and soft skills needed to make change sustainable.
- Utilise change events. Change events are planned team activities to make large scale, step-changes. They deliver double-digit % improvements and drive employee engagement and ownership of changes. Any change programme should be a mix of step-change events and small, incremental changes.
- Recognise and reward success. Necessary to positively recognise the behaviour and outcomes you want to encourage. Ensure people and teams are celebrated for making (and sustaining) changes – it will encourage others to follow suit.
- Plan for change. The only constant in life is change. Have a plan of activities that covers at least 6 months, ideally a year. This shows the changes are not some new initiative but rather part of a culture of continuous improvement that is here to stay.