5 ways you can make change management fruitful
The age of change is upon us. Globalisation and economic turbulence have catapulted us into the 21st Century of disruption and innovation, and we’re slap-bang in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution – one in which technology is transforming the way we live, work and communicate faster than you can say ‘Steve Jobs’.
To keep up in a world of constant change, businesses have to be savvy about changing themselves too. It’s the ace that every organisation should have stored up their inconspicuous sleeve.
Organisations are often thought of as living, breathing organisms, with their own unique DNA, character, and ‘ways of doing things round here’. In a way, they’re sort of like a forest – each tree is a different employee, all working together for mutual benefit, sharing nutrients and resources and fuelling the whole ‘settlement’. Just as nothing in an organisation is mutually exclusive, so the forest trees are intertwined through a vast underground network of roots which scientists call the ‘Wood-Wide Web’.
If the organisation is the forest, then change is a flower, cropping up occasionally within the forestry and establishing itself as a part of its workings. However, just like the flower which lacks sunlight and nutrients withers away, so will a change which is not given the right amount of effort, dedication or resource. Every successful change depends on several crucial elements.
So what’s the most important fuel to feed the flower of organisational change?
- Remembering that change is an emotional transition.
The biggest blow to a change is forgetting that it’s fundamentally about people. Change primarily affects employees, in turn affecting their behaviour and emotions. As a flower grows, all we see is the physical transformation. But a lot of the process – photosynthesis, nutrient extraction – is invisible. To truly understand how to make a change work, you have to acknowledge what’s beneath the surface, as well as what’s visible on top. And that means respecting employees’ feelings and thoughts, and supporting them accordingly.
- Moving towards improvement, instead of away from stagnation
One of the most sure-fire ways to achieve a goal is to think about it positively rather than negatively – moving towards something you do want rather than away from something you don’t want. For example, if you were implementing a new company-wide software system, you could say you were moving towards a more streamlined and efficient practice, instead of away from a fragmented, slow one. And it helps to remember that framing the change positively will be more likely to motivate employees as well.
- Invested senior leadership
Involved, invested leadership is one of the cornerstones of employee engagement. It gives more credibility to the organisation, and helps employees to feel valued. This is no different during change. In the absence of leadership, the change buzz question would likely be ‘well if they don’t care, why should we?’. Dedicated, visible leaders are the richest source of motivation for employees, and if there’s a sense of direction and purpose, the change will be seen as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.
- Clear, consistent communication
The most commonly cited reason for change failure is a lack of communication. And since communication is a universal skill, that statistic is like a slap in the face. Just as a plant needs watering little and often, so employees need communicating to concisely and frequently so they understand what’s actually going on. No-one can navigate a change blindly, and everyone needs to be on the same page if they’re going to pull it off.
- Involving employees
It goes without saying that if we’re involved in making something happen, we’ll be more dedicated to seeing it through, and more proud of it once it’s complete. This phenomenon is called the IKEA Effect (aptly named for the company’s abundant supply of DIY furniture), and demonstrates the advantages of involving employees in a change. And not only will they be more committed to it, but you never know when an employee might pipe up with a great idea you hadn’t even considered.
As with employee engagement, there’s no concrete formula to getting change right – since it depends on the organisation in question. But there are certain key elements which, when combined, can help change to flower successfully – and bear lots of beneficial fruit.
PRINT can help you understand your Unconscious Motivators, giving you an insight into the why of your behaviour and that of others – leading to better communication, better teamwork, and better change.
PRINT offers leadership development programmes to help you really get the best out of your employees. If you’d like to discover your Unconscious Motivators or find out more about how PRINT could engage your employees, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our website and social media (Facebook: @discoveryourprint, Twitter: @Discover_Print, LinkedIn: Print Profile Ltd) or sign up to our mailing list. If you’d like to bring PRINT’s benefits to organisations and businesses, we offer Accreditation courses enabling in-house coaches and learning & development professionals to become certified PRINT coaches.