Whereas change is refreshing, it’s human nature to prefer the comfortable and predictable. Once you’ve gotten into a certain way of doing things, it’s difficult to immediately accept that there’s a better way. To some extent, it’s an evolved defense mechanism that seeks to protect us from the danger of the unknown.
Unfortunately, a failure by employees or a business to embrace change can have catastrophic consequences. In the worst case, it can lead to redundancy and market irrelevance. When introducing changes to an organization, business leaders must get everyone on board as early and as quickly as possible. The following tips can help you do that.
1. Get the Top on Board
The disruptive nature of change calls for strong and firm leadership. If change is initiated by lower level staff, it’s unlikely to make much headway regardless of the amount of enthusiasm such staff might have.
Change management is most effective when it has the buy-in of the highest ranked persons in the organization. Workers may not like what is going on but the fact that the head of the business is in support automatically reduces the amount of resistance the changes are bound to face.
2. Prioritize People Over Technology
Information technology has radically transformed daily life over the past three decades. That has sometimes resulted in the flawed but widespread assumption that technology is the answer to everything. It’s unwise to believe that if you abruptly install a new system and train workers on how to use it, everything will come together seamlessly from that point on.
Instead, you should pay attention to the people who’ll be affected by the change and start to win them over well before the systems meant to effect the change have been rolled out. It’s all about getting your people in the right frame of mind. You have to conquer their minds first if you want to reduce the number of resisters and draw the majority to your side.
3. Partner with the Willing
Dissent and other negative feedback is valuable and can help you improve the change process. That said, make sure you distinguish between constructive criticism and plain old resistance to change. More importantly, listen to dissenters (especially at the start) but don’t expend too much of your time and energy on debates regarding a change whose benefits are manifestly clear.
Rather, make the most of staff who’ve bought into the idea and are excited to move on to the new phase. These will in turn become your department champions and help you push through the change at all levels.
Sometimes, people don’t want change simply because they have neither been notified about it nor advised of its benefits. Most of your employees are rational people. Ergo, seek to appeal to their minds on why the changes are necessary. Many will fall in line when you clearly communicate what the change is and why it is necessary.
Communication not only ensures you get your message across but also inculcates a sense of mission in the workers and a drive to ensure the change succeeds.
5. Change Should Be Gradual
If you ambush employees with changes and reorganize entire process in one day, things will definitely not flow smoothly. Often, resistance to change is less to do with people not wanting change and more to do with insufficient preparation. People will certainly be uncomfortable if they are without warning thrusted into a new procedure overnight without being prepared.
It leaves them feeling lost, insecure and unimportant. To avoid this scenario, apply Kanban principles (see what is Kanban system). Start to plan your changes months in advance. This gives you ample time to acquaint employees with their new roles.
Change is about speed, innovation and competitiveness. Businesses that do not change when they need to change are bound to fall behind. The above tips are vital in making the change management process successful and aligning employees with the evolution of the organization.