Business Transformation: Making Change Management Stick
It’s easy to talk about business transformation. It’s harder to actually implement it and even more difficult to make the changes stick. In the previous articles in this series we discussed how to identify emerging opportunities, optimize work space and encourage creativity. Each of these efforts represents an important step towards creating meaningful change but they can all be wasted if an organization goes back to “business as usual” after a brief trial period. The final piece of the business transformation puzzle is developing a strategy to make an innovative work solution or amazing new idea a permanent part of the organization. This can be accomplished with the following steps:
1. Communicate the Impact of Change
People are most resistant to ideas they don’t understand. Start any major change with a plan to explain the entire process (the rationale, the ultimate goal and the specific changes to work flow) to everyone in the company. Allow time for people from all levels to speak to management about their role and take this opportunity to describe to them how they can have a positive impact on the new process. Real change begins with emotional investment from employees, whether they are a line worker or the CEO.
2. Lay Out a Clear Path
Management should have a clear vision of how the organizational change will impact each sector of the company. One global energy firm created a “heat map” illustrating which groups had the most intense levels of change, and which were less affected. This allowed them to assign higher levels of oversight and assistance to the groups that were facing greater changes and challenges. Managers also provided detailed descriptions of the new deliverables expected from each team. Clearly stating new responsibilities and success metrics for the initiative ensures no one is caught off guard when asked to deliver them.
3. Leadership Buy-In and Role Modeling
Engaged employees have high expectations of their leaders. All levels of management need to be on board with the new process and demonstrate adherence in order to gain buy-in from employees. One middle manager resisting the change can influence an entire department to balk at new responsibilities and delay full adoption.
4. Embed the Change in the Organization’s Structure
In order to be successful the change must be implemented across all structures, human resource functions, processes and incentive programs. The vast majority of workers perform better within a defined structure. If the change creates breaks or redundancies in the current organizational flow, a new one must be devised before the change is implemented. Restructuring often requires giving staff new responsibilities, so the human resources department may have to work out title changes or even create entirely new positions. Attempting to implement a change without supporting it structurally will only lead to frustration and widespread failure to adopt.
5. Tracking Progress
Leaders are often too quick to declare victory after a change has first been implemented. Just because all of the pieces have been put in place does not mean the task is over. In fact, it is just beginning. Consistent, long-term measurement of the success metrics laid out at the start of the project is the only way to prove what the change accomplished. Creating milestones and tracking incremental progress in a visual way for employees helps encourage meeting smaller goals along the way. Leaders must be open to feedback from peers and staff on the new processes. If something’s not working, a different solution that creates the same end result should be implemented in its place.
Interested in reading more about change management? Check back next week to download ACT Conferencing’s comprehensive white paper on the topic.