No business can be isolated from change, since today’s business environment is especially fast moving. These external changes can be caused by local events, shifts in the global economy, as well as technological advances.
A business has to react to these changes or it will undoubtedly fail. The problem is that many of the changes needed in an organisation affect the employees, sometimes in a major way, such as redundancy or having to be retrained to do a new job.
If this change is mismanaged or the reasons behind it are not effectively communicated to the staff or stakeholders, the effects on the business can be dramatic.
Therefore, it is essential that a plan is created to cover this need and that the leadership team can fully explain the reasons for change, together with its effects in a positive manner.
A Structured Approach to Change is Required
However, before a plan can be created, it is necessary to understand what change management is. It is also essential to realise that no change ever happens in isolation. In other words, change impacts all of an organisation and, more importantly, all of the staff within (as well, of course, all the stakeholders). The trick is to encourage all parties to adapt and embrace the changes required. The problem here is that this requires excellent leadership skills, which means that the leadership team itself may need help.
Understand What Change Means
To do this you must consider these issues:-
- Why is change needed, and what are the key objectives?
- What will the benefits of the change be to the business?
- What are the positive impacts?
- What are the negative impacts, and how will the way that people work be affected?
- What do all parties have to do if the change is to be successful?
You also need to understand and be able to communicate what will happen if the changes are not made.
Plan The Change
Change is unlikely to be successful unless a plan is made and kept to. You will also need to secure and engage sponsorship from all parties, obtain external help as needed and do your very best to win support.
Implementing The Change
This is where the need for excellent leadership becomes most important, it being vital to build momentum and encourage all to engage with the changes needed. All the while, of course, being mindful of people’s feelings and state of mind.
Great Communication is the Key
There is no doubt that communication can make or break the change process. It is therefore vital that the change that you want to implement has to be clear and relevant. You also need to demonstrate why the change is required so that people can understand what you want them to do and why they need to do it.
The skill required goes beyond the explanation of the facts, it is also necessary to set the right tone, so that you receive the reaction you need.
Being Able To Lead Change
There is no one style to use when leading change, the most important thing being to lead in the way that suits your own personality. That does not mean that you don’t have to change or adapt of course, it is necessary to do this to match the particular challenges involved.
Measuring The Change Process
Throughout the change management process, you need to have a structure in place to measure the impact the changes are having on the business. All the while ensuring that you are continuing to reinforce the need for change, and are taking any and all opportunities that become apparent.
Effecting Change Is Not Easy
Whilst all of the above will help make sure that the change process is successful, this is far more likely if the team and their leadership are fully prepared and trained.
There are many ways to train staff and help leaders become more proficient. Still, undoubtedly, the best way is to run a series of simulations, thus enabling the team to experience the process and what they have to do BEFORE they are engaged in earnest.
Running Simulations Is The Key
During and after the simulations, all participants are given feedback on their actions, allowing them to understand what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.
In effect, these simulations are like the ‘war games’ that the army carries out frequently. They allow the team members to gell and pull together, all the while understanding the effect of each action they take.
The team leader is also able to see how they can improve their style and how best to react with their team members.
One of the leading firms offering simulations in the leadership of change is a firm called Prendo Simulations, and I would recommend anyone who is considering changes in their business to check out their website. www.prendo.com