A major new project is well underway and likely to, no definitely will, disrupt the status quo – but it’s all for the greater good and you can clearly see the benefits and opportunities it will bring to your organisation. You may even have been involved in the planning and initiation stages of the project and understand the transformation to the business that is possible once the project is implemented and adopted.
But there’s an issue…
The project deliverable may be just what the organisation needs but how can you get that message across to your team or department? To people who are already anxious about what the project implementation will mean to them personally and to their role within the company – if they even manage to keep their job, that is.
Major change initiatives don’t have a particularly high success rate and when they fail it is not just a financial loss that is incurred but also a loss of morale and lost opportunities. So improving the success rate of change initiatives is essential to reap the benefits of the upheaval and deliver true transformation.
A good place to start is with some change management basics.
Change management principles
Leverage the existing company culture
The existing culture of an organisation can be used to support people through a major change initiative and help overcome resistance to change. Whilst the culture might have to change in order to deliver organisational transformation the way people work, think and behave right now can be a springboard to a new culture.
Gain commitment from senior execs and other influencers
The people at the “frontline” are, of course, important to the successful implementation of organisational change, but senior management must be fully committed to the change if it is to be successful. Everyone with formal authority or influence (formal or informal) should be identified and engaged to drive the transformation. Some influential people in large organisations can make great ambassadors for change even if they do not hold formal positions of authority.
Engage hearts and minds at all levels
It may be a well-worn phrase but engaging the hearts and minds of people at all levels in an organisation is often neglected. People are emotional beings and won’t be swayed to support a change initiative by rational arguments alone. Making an emotional argument for the change is far more likely to engage people.
Lead by example
Identify and adopt the new behaviours required for transformation. This could be more frequent face-to-face conversations, reducing bureaucracy or becoming proactive instead of reactive – or any number of other behaviours that will form part of the new culture, the new status quo. They vary across professions and industries but will always build trust and encourage those around you.
Provide support through training and development
You can bring people on board by changing their behaviours (and yours), engaging them in the change initiative and addressing their emotional and rational concerns; but if they simply do not have the skills to take advantage of the transformation then the change initiative will fail. So identify the skills you need to fully adopt the change initiative and the skills employees already have then put in place an appropriate training plan so that everyone is capable of fully embedding the change in their day-to-day working life.