How do you feel about creating real change, as a leader?
Change management in the workplace is the ‘new constant’.
According to Gartner though, half of change initiatives fail, and only 34% are a clear success.
Employee surveys rarely show employees believing that their employers handle change well. After all, it’s usually a huge challenge for leadership teams!
But not having workers on board can significantly impact the outcome of the planned changes.
I’ve led some major change projects during my career, including major IT changes, redeploying teams, and establishing major new ways of working. I’ve found the following to be key elements for success.
Communicating the ‘Why’
Communication is by far the most important tool to manage change effectively – both initial and ongoing.
Clarity about the aim of the changes and what that means for the people involved is essential. Employees need to know why changes are being proposed and what the likely implications for them. Being honest about the challenges ahead can help put minds at rest.
The plan will outline your objectives and which areas of your organisation are likely to be affected. It should also focus on risks, and the likely impact on customers, suppliers, stakeholders and employees. Create milestones, easy wins and break stages down – too much change at once can overwhelm.
Engaging with Teams
✼ Acknowledging and recognising the work carried out before the change will help engage the cooperation of employees, rather than feeling their hard work was a waste of time.
✼ Anticipating questions is also key, before, during and after the change process
✼ Providing the opportunity for genuine engagement and questions from teams and individuals, also demonstrating listening and making sure answers are provided.
✼ Identifying key influencers who have the respect of the team and can act as a sounding board can help to increase positivity amongst employees about the challenge ahead.
Can there be too much communication regarding change? Probably not.
The Change Curve
We are asking people to feel, think or do something different, which can be met with a variety of responses.
Some people will willingly accept proposed changes with positivity and others will feel resistant, anxious, and negative. It is a personal thing.
An individual may move through the Kubler Ross change curve apace, may get stuck at one stage, or they may circle back to a previous state. Help employees to transition to the new way of working. Involve them and have as many discussions as necessary. Listen to employee feedback and ideas. Using these tools can reduce the resistance to change.
Thinking about where we are personally on the change curve is a useful exercise, to examine our own commitment versus resistance.
What can help?
Coaching for leaders can be hugely beneficial in helping them achieve their change management goals.
As mentioned, our own resistance can be a factor here, as well as dealing with the conflict that can arise when we introduce change.
When we ourselves are facing change or decide we want to change, exactly the same principles above apply.
If you found this article helpful and want to know more about how coaching can support change management, do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org