The pace of change in the business domain is frantic. Look around and you will quickly see changes in the Political arena, in Economic and Sociological dynamics, in Technological innovation and increasingly the Environment. the combined impact from these changes can be dramatic for any organisation.
As Leaders and Managers, we adapt to these changes by attempting to predict the long term business landscape and then adapting our strategy and operations to be more effective under those conditions.
We then attempt a change process that aim to adapt the organisation into a structure and with processes that are more likely to produce target outcomes given these predicted conditions.
Unfortunately, even if we manage to achieve the planned changes, we often find that there can be insufficient ‘stickiness’ for those changes to endure and there can be a general slip back to the way things were.
Here are 6 tips to maximise the chances that your change programmes will endure:
1. Link your changes to a vision that reflects the purpose of the organisation:
- Why does the organisation exist (other than to make money for the shareholders)?
- How does this change achieve that purpose?
Answer these questions and make sure they are well understood throughout the organisation. Make the reason for change as compelling and memorable as a jingle from a commercial.
2. Have everyone play a role in the decisions for the change:
- Involvement generates a degree of commitment to the change process.
- Involvement in the change process means that individuals will feel the loss if it fails and so are more motivated to ensure it works.
- Involvement in a successful project lets the team say ‘look what we have done’ with a feeling of pride and commitment to the future of the organisation.
3. Recognise that change can be frightening for some people:
- Some personality types change in an instant and are happy to work in the new structure at a moments notice.
- Change can, however, be unsettling and some personality types don’t react well to any kind of change. Ensure that you help them through the change process and bring them along. The new state will soon be accepted as the norm and these people will thrive again.
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate:
- Use every communication channel open to you and ensure that the message resonates at all levels and from all of the key people. There must be a single message about, what, when, how, who and WHY!
- If the team don’t have questions, then they don’t yet understand the level of impact the change process is likely to have, so ask them questions and get them thinking about the change, after all involvement creates commitment!
5. Positive reinforcement generates momentum:
- If you see someone acting in a way that supports the new order of things, take the opportunity to give them positive feedback.
- If you see someone acting in the old ways, then coach them into the new patterns and then praise them when they are supporting the new order of things.
- Positive feedback reinforces change, any change.
6. Have descriptive and clear measures of performance:
- Feedback is the breakfast of champions!
- Clear feedback that shows how the new structure and process is adding more value than before increases the chance that the change will stick.
- If people associate the change to a positive outcome on a company level (eg. profit) and a positive outcome on a personal level (eg. I keep my job!) it is more likely to stick.
These tips will not guarantee that your change process will yield an enduring new strategy or supportive structures and processes, but they will support the change effort in very compelling way, stacking the odds in your favour.
Dare to Aspire