Purposeful Change – Don’t Change Simply to Say You Did
We’ve all heard the saying that “change is inevitable;” or to put a spin on the famous words of Benjamin Franklin: Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes… and change. A study by Prosci of over 1700 leaders found that 86% expect the number of change initiatives to increase in their organizations. Some of our employees (and us) may feel like we are reaching the saturation point of how much change they can continuously handle. Yet, we also know it’s never ending!
We know we’re in a fast-past, change-filled world and that to be an industry leader, we don’t simply strive to keep up, we want to be on the cutting edge! But at what cost (and I don’t just mean monetarily)? Are we sure every change is worth it? Really, every single one? Yet we know we must change to survive (it is the way of humans after all). So how do you capitalize on the true opportunities that change can bring rather than merely going through the same motions over and over (and over) again?
Don’t Waste Your Time with Ineffectual Changes
Key to effective change management is to be thoughtful in selecting only value-adding initiatives, to have a plan both to initiate the change as well as to sustain it, and to be truly present walking the talk throughout the change process (yes, that includes all leaders out there from front-line to executives). It’s been found that well over half of change transformations fail. Effective change management may take more time up front, but if you want to have meaningful change, you must be willing to invest what it takes to do it well.
Here are some of the key elements we’ve found that impact the likelihood of a successful transformational change (and making a good decision in the first place).
WHY is this needed? What VALUE is it bringing to the table and at what cost? Can you document that the benefits outweigh the costs?
Don’t just pick up the latest fad because someone in your market is; make sure there’s purpose behind your organization using it and know what you are aiming to achieve. Otherwise, how will you know if it succeeded?
Evaluate how it will impact employees, both in their practical day-to-day work, and emotionally. Is now the right time?
Involve key employees in the decision-making process. This will broaden the perspectives and help make a more informed choice. Plus, it will increase buy-in as it demonstrates leaders value the opinions of their people and you’ll then have front-line ambassadors sharing support for the change throughout the organization.
TELL your employees WHY this is being done - sell the pain point or what issue it will address. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Have a Plan:
Define what is in and what is out of scope. BE CLEAR.
Make sure all relevant stakeholders are included at the appropriate planning stages. Bringing more voices into the planning process helps ensure a well-rounded perspective is taken into account, fewer assumptions must be made which reduces risk, and greater buy-in is generated when people feel heard and represented in the room who then become your greatest ambassadors.
Take the time to properly consider budget and a realistic schedule (remembering most team members likely still have day-to-day responsibilities, too). What level of quality is required? What level of risk is acceptable or can be mitigated with proper planning? What resources are available internal to the organization and what may need to be acquired externally, etc.? How will prioritization among these constraints occur and what decision-making processes are established when conflicts arise between priorities?
Put all the planning to use by effectively managing to the plan; don’t just set it and forget it. This involves variance and trend analysis and taking action when necessary to correct or prevent alterations that take you too far off course from meeting the plan’s objectives.
COMMUNICATE. Communicate more. And then continue communicating with all stakeholders.
Walk the Talk (and simply BE THERE):
Leaders need to send the message of importance and purpose behind a change, not just at kick off, but throughout the entire process. Leaders need to demonstrate leadership. This is not just making the tough decisions, but also celebrate the wins! An important part of great leadership is recognizing people and valuing their hard work; without them, you’d have nothing to lead.
Be available for questions from those who are seeing change after change after change. Change burnout can increase the risk of your change initiative failing if employees or end users don’t see the purpose and don’t feel they have a voice.
Support requires being seen. Don’t assume everyone knows senior leaders support a change or it wouldn’t be happening; be out there reminding them and showing you are invested. Remember, giving authority to the project manager is not the same as demonstrating support of the change to the rest of the organization. By being present, you’ll observe trends, hear rumblings of concern, and be able to keep a pulse on the organization to enable taking action to course correct as needed in a timely fashion.
COMMUNICATE throughout the lifecycle of the change initiative. Are we noticing a trend with the importance of communication?
Model change or “Walk the Talk.” For example, if your organization is embarking on a wellness initiative (perhaps to lower health insurance costs, improve worker productivity, or simply to support your team more holistically), your leaders must model the change first. Employees watch their leaders. If they are always seen sitting at their desk through lunch and ordering in fast food, employees may worry they’ll be seen as less committed if they take a lunch break to take a walk outside (which actually proves more effective for increasing productivity). So, lead by example.
Sound like a lot?
You’re in luck! We can help you plan, execute and manage change initiatives in a comprehensive manner and even provide you with a sustainability plan. We utilize a unique blend of organizational development, human capital and project management methodologies to ensure you have a planned, systematic approach to successfully identify and implement changes in your organization. Contact Key Elements Consulting for a discussion on your change initiative!