One of the immutable facts of business is that employees and clients do not like change. Business management however, is an evolving process and needs to be periodically transformed in order to maximize growth.
The goals of this growth can be to increase a customer base, to achieve larger financial targets or to be known as leaders within the industry. Regardless of the goals, some sort of progression or transformation needs to take place, within an organisation, for these goals to be reached.
Organisation change management cannot take place unless the people involved are on-board. This means that managers need an armoury of change solutions, which are effective in altering people’s behaviour, so that they will effectively embrace the change management process.
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, many organisations are moving towards a more decentralised workforce. This means that employees may work in satellite offices, at home or on the road, or even in multiple countries.
Trying to initiate change in such a disparate collection of work environments and workplace cultures, has made a difficult process even more complex and fraught with danger.
Add to this already muddled environment, the problem that business management changes, more often than not, lack a clear strategic plan and you have a process that is designed for failure. Planning for change involves not only having a practical goal in sight, but it must also include the education and training of staff or clients, as well as clear communications and achievable timeframes.
Simply announcing new goals or changes does not make them happen. The voice from high will not resonate well with those down below, particularly if there is no plan, no help and no clear reason to change. All that will result is that employees will become apathetic and disengaged or resentful of the entire change management process – if one even exists.
The ideal solution involves a progressive engagement with the change management process, where productivity towards a defined goal steadily increases, but within a set timeframe.
The most successful change solutions involve four key components, all of which must be in place for the process to be successful. Ignoring any of these steps will jeopardise the transition to change; certainly lengthening the time to completion and most likely bringing it to a screeching halt.
The management of organisational change is not a linear progression from one step to the next, it involves organic change at all levels of a company. Some of these four steps can be taken together, others will benefit from feedback and yet others can only be implemented after previous steps.
There are no rules when you are initiating change within an organisation, there are however, four proven steps that must be taken:
Any change must be fully supported at the executive level within an organization. If the managers and CEO do not vocalize their support and do not explain the benefits of the proposed changes to not only the organization, but also to the employees and their clients, then the process is doomed to failure.
Advocates for the change management process are essential for a successful transition. These advocates should fully accept the need for the business management changes and understand the implementation process. If possible, there should be two advocates for the transition period, one taking on a more project management role, driving the process and maintaining the timeframes and budget.
The second advocate should have enough knowledge and influence amongst their peers that they can actively campaign for the changes and help to speed up their adoption within the workforce.
These can take many forms from in-house seminars to on-the job training, but whatever their form, they are an essential component of initiating and implementing a successful change management process.
Depending on the changes that need to be implemented within an organization, there will be key performance indicators that can be measured. These will provide feedback on the success of the implementation process and are essential for highlighting where improvements or course corrections should be made.
Effective business management involves working closely with external agencies or partners, who also need to embrace these changes or may themselves be the instigator of the change process.
When new partnerships initiate changes within an organization, the partners need to work closely with the designated advocates for these changes and also contribute to the education and training of staff as necessary.