How to manage change in your organisation
As a manager you should continually be looking for ways to improve performance
. This sort of incremental change should be a constant feature of your dealings in the work place.
There are times however, when rather more sweeping change has to take place and this will need a much more formal approach.
Major change may be at your instigation or it may be driven by a corporate need.
Sometimes in the latter case you, yourself, may not be in total agreement with the change being introduced. This position is not an option for you. As a manager you are the appointed representative of the organisation. As such, you are there to enact the organisation's wishes.
The basis for successfully managing change is information. Find out as much as you can about the change that is going to take place.
If you are the initiator of the change, do your homework. By doing so, you will be better able to carry people with you. Once you have garnered the knowledge required which is relevant to the change in question you will be in a better position to implement the new process or practice.
With the information gathered, you need to divide the data into two camps. The first camp is known as driving forces. These are all the positives associated with the proposed change. They may be features or facts. Look too for positive people, people who you know will be enthusiastic about the change. You can utilise them as champions of the cause. Add them to your list of driving forces.
Having compiled the list, your job is now to seek ways of maximising the impact or perception of these drivers. Think about how to express features and facts as benefits. A useful way in which to do this is to focus on 'this means that' or 'which means that' statements. These statements signal that what follows is the benefit or advantage.
Now do the reverse. Compile a list of all the downsides associated with the proposed change. Again, they may be features, facts or people. This may well give you an insight into other people's potential objections to the change. You may then be able to preempt their arguments.
With resistors your job is to minimise the impact or perception of the items on your list. Note that you may not be able to alter the material facts on the list. It is the way people perceive them that will make a difference.
For example, let us say that you are proposing a change and that there is a large financial cost to the change. This will be a resistor when you propose the change and seek to get the support of senior management. You cannot alter the overall figure. You need to present it in a way that makes it acceptable. One technique for this is factoring. A day's training costs £1,000. This cannot be altered. 10 people can attend the course. That's £100 per person. The day's training lasts 8 hours. That's £12.50 per hour per person. Compare that with, say, the cost of a driving lesson. What you now have is a bargain.
Having done both drivers and resistors you are now able to begin the five-step change process.
When staff are first presented with the proposed change they will automatically go into denial. This is the 'Why do we need a new system?' 'What's wrong with the old one?' mentality. Some people will be more deeply entrenched than others. Accept this as normal.
Your first job is to move people from denial to defence. What is required here is to find an opportunity for people to say what it is they like about the thing they are being asked to give up. Get them, in other words, to defend the status quo. You may choose to do this individually or collectively. In reality, it is likely to be a combination of the two, with more individual time being spent on the most deeply entrenched.
In effect, what you have done here is got them to open up. In denial they were closed. You now have room to go to work.
This stage has two phases. This is the point at which you bring to bear the work that you did with drivers and resistors (See above). Phase one is where you now counter their defence and deal with the resistors as it were.
Phase two is building the case for the new. Extol the drivers with their attendant benefits. Again, these two phases can be done singly or as a group.
If you successfully carry this stage off, staff will now be at the point where they can see why the change is necessary, but they will still have misgivings about putting the change into practice.
To overcome these fears there now needs to be a period of settling in. This may, for example, be about running the systems in parallel for a period. It may involve training. What it does not involve is a blame culture. Mistakes are acceptable at this point. People need time to get used to the new processes.
Having successfully passed through the stage above, people will reach the point where they feel comfortable with the new working practice. Newcomers to the organisation after the change has occurred simply accept the system in place. It is the ones with previous experience who need to be managed.
Change is not immediate. People cannot be expected to go home on Friday working one way, and arrive on Monday ready to operate differently. Plan and allow time for executing major change.