Philosophically it is said that “Nothing is permanent. Change is the only constant in life”. Everything evolves. There is a need for retiring the old and obsolete and replace the same with new and better.
From a business perspective, we see changes at the organization level wherein organizations are constantly changing their business processes, their product and service offerings, adding new and better ways of doing business, thereby driving more efficiency and deriving more business value.
But making a change is not a simple process. As humans, by nature, there will be resistance to change as people get used to their current ways of doing things. People feel set and stable with their current state of affairs. Making a change will disrupt their existing state of stability. That is the reason; most often any new proposed change will face resistance from various quarters.
Hence it is important to adopt a structured change management approach for making successful change management. An effective change management process will primarily focus on how effectively we can engage, influence and involve various stakeholders and achieve their buy-in to the idea of change and receive their full support in the process of making the change.
A change will be successful only if it can be implemented by dint of the support and whole-hearted involvement of all concerned stakeholders.
In all the above change management approaches, the end goal is to implement the changes effectively by involving all stakeholders and by reducing all resistance and obstacles. The vocabulary each model is using may be different, but all approaches lead to achieving the same end goal.
In general, below are some of the logical steps, we need to follow for effective change management. There must a leader driving the change with a core change management team.
Scope of the change must be ascertained. The impacts of the proposed change must be carefully evaluated. Benefits must be assessed as well. The change management team also needs to assess readiness of the organization and people with regards to their willingness to accepting the new change.
Change brings some amount of disruption. Hence it is extremely important to keep every stakeholder informed about the benefits of the change to them as well as to the business as a whole. Many times, there may be fear and backlash among employees regarding the change. All such apprehensions and fears need to be alleviated through regular planned communication with all stakeholders. Communication will also help in getting the support of all stakeholders.
Involving senior executives as sponsor in leading the change process is important. When the senior business leaders act as driving the change, it helps in maintaining confidence at all levels. There must be a plan for how we can involve the senior business leaders as the true sponsors of these changes.
Getting buy-in of all people across the board is critical for successful change implementation. Bringing all managers and supervisors on board in support of the change will help in getting their teams also on board, which in turn will make the change implementation process an involved process. Everyone accepts the idea of change and participates whole heartedly.
Awareness of benefits of the change in every employee’s mind is critical. Providing the necessary knowledge and information through trainings to employees post the change is implemented will be equally important. Hence a plan for necessary training programs for impacted employees must be made and must be delivered at the right times.
Resistance from employees and managers is normal and can be proactively addressed. Persistent resistance, however, can threaten a project. The change management team needs to identify, understand and help leaders manage resistance throughout the organization.
Managing change is not a one way process; employee involvement is a necessary and integral part of managing change. Feedback from employees as a change is being implemented is a key element of the change management process. Change managers can analyse all the feedback and implement corrective action based on this feedback to ensure full adoption of the changes.
Early adoption, successes and long-term wins must be recognized and celebrated. Individual and group recognition is a necessary component of change management in order to cement and reinforce the change in the organization. Continued adoption needs to be monitored to ensure employees do not slip back into their old ways of working.
It is important to continue to refine the change management process itself. The final step in the change management process is the after-action review. It is at this point that you can look back, evaluate successes and failures, and identify change management process changes for the next big change in the organization. This is part of the on-going, continuous improvement of change management for your organization and ultimately leads to maturity in change management capability.
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