Today’s organizations and businesses have a growing number of direct competitors, on both the local and global market. With the swift improvement in technology, economy, business, and communication companies are forced to keep up and adapt quickly. To put it simply, constant progress is a necessity for the success of any business.
However, progress implies changes, and changes imply a lot of hard work on all levels of an organization. And that’s exactly what change management is all about.
If you’re not quite sure what exactly change management is, or how to handle it within your company, don’t despair. We’ve gathered all the information on change management basics you’ll need, so just keep reading.
What is Change Management?
First things first, you need to understand what exactly does the term change management encompass.
Change management is defined as:
- the strategic plan for handling any type of a change within a company: a transition, re-organizing, employing new skills, tools, or technologies, assigning new roles, or employing new ideas.
In other words, it’s the steps we need to take to adjust our work environment and strategies to the changing occurrences which define us.
Change management can be applied to:
- changes happening without our control, that we need to adjust to
- changes provoked by the companies themselves to ensure development and success
This means that managing changes isn’t just about sitting and waiting for things to happen. it’s also about introducing changes yourself.
Now that we understand the term, let’s break it down even further.
Change Management Basics
So, how can you handle change management in your company or the business you own or manage? What exactly is your role in the whole process?
The truth is, there are so many different strategies and approaches defined by world leaders in change management. However, the basics are simple and easy to digest.
Let’s take a look at the basic steps in the process of change management.
Promote a Change-Positive Attitude
Most people don’t like changes. They see them as a threat or something which can jeopardize their currently satisfying position.
The same goes for employees in any company.
If things are good the way they are, why should we change anything?
This attitude will take you nowhere and is one of the major problems you’ll face in the process of change management.
To eliminate this attitude or prevent it from appearing, you need to:
- work on creating a positive attitude towards change
- encourage employees to think outside of the box and share ideas
- reward curiosity, uniqueness, and unorthodox methods
- allow experimenting
If you foster this type of mindset from day one, your employees will be able to adapt to any changes quickly and with approval.
Clearly Define the Change
Change management process is all about precision and accuracy.
Being unspecific or going with the flow won’t take you very far.
Therefore, make sure you clearly define the change and all of its aspects:
- what is going to be done differently?
- how long is the process going to last?
- who’s going to be affected by it?
- what benefits are going to come out of it?
Answer all of the above questions and make sure you have a detailed plan in your mind or on paper.
Write everything down and do the necessary calculations. To make this process easier you can use the tactics of professional writers that help them work faster and be more productive. The key is to write down everything that comes into your mind even if it seems irrelevant at first sight. Editing and assessing the ideas should be separated from the writing itself.
Assign a Leader
Every multi-layered process needs someone to coordinate it and be in charge of.
This doesn’t mean a single person should make all the decisions, but there needs to be someone communicating cross-departments and keeping matters under control.
In addition, the employees need to know there’s someone they could reach out to if things go wrong or they feel insecure.
When assigning a leader for the change management process, pay attention to the following things:
- great communication skills
- familiar with all levels of the business
- capable of being productive under stress
- employees feel confident talking to them
This could be the company's CEO or someone who's handled multi-department projects before.
You could even assign the role of a team leader for every department, in case you have a large number of employees.
Make sure the communication channel is clear, open, and functioning properly.
Specify the Roles
When it’s time for a change, everyone in your company needs to learn about it. However, not everyone needs to know everything.
If you give your staff too much information, they might start panicking and lose track of their actual role.
There are two steps you need to take:
- inform everyone about the basics: why is the change happening, how long will it last, what good will come out of it
- inform individual employees or departments about their specific roles in the process of introducing changes
Don’t go too deep into unnecessary detail but make sure everyone knows exactly what to do. This will keep the whole process efficient and smooth.
The best thing you could do to ensure your employees are ready to accept change and act upon it is to provide proper trainingfor all of them.
This means you should organize:
- brainstorming sessions
Anything that would keep your employees well-informed and ready to step up when necessary will do the trick.
In addition, you’ll be encouraging them to keep working on self-improvement and healthy communication.
Managers and business owners tend to perceive change as a potential source of stress and disruption. While they have to work on adopting a different mindset, they need to be the ones who react quickly and set the others into motion.
Here’s what’s necessary:
- if you sense the need for a change, start planning for it immediately
- let everyone know what’s coming
- actively work on several strategic plans on how to handle it
If you push it under the carpet and hope it will go away, you're not doing anyone a favor.
Adopt the following mindset: the sooner we start dealing with it, the sooner we’ll be able to continue working stress-free.
Don’t hide or hold back potential change information.
Revise the Effects
Once the change process is finished and you’ve successfully implemented it, your job is not done.
The final step is necessary to achieve the desired effect and let your employees see the results of their hard work.
This means that you need to:
- organize a post-implementation meeting
- openly discuss the results
- give feedback to every department and employee
- analyze the steps you’ve taken and how effective they were
To make things even more memorable, you can put together handouts to all employees and ensure you’ve got the whole process documented. This may be helpful for when the next change is upon you.
Change Management Basics - Conclusion
Changes are bound to happen. Whether you like them or not, they’re an inevitable part of running a business. Therefore, change management is something you’ll be dealing with regularly.
Hopefully, the advice above helped you get the basics of change management. Use them to get prepared for making the right moves and embracing change with arms wide open.
Authored by guest contributor Amanda Sparks
Further Reading: THE PERIGON METHOD