“The only thing that is constant is Change.” – Heraclitus
Succeeding in today’s rapidly evolving world of project management requires more than just technical knowledge. Unfortunately, most executives focus on these aspects only. Instead, they should incorporate organizational culture and human aspects in their long-term strategies which would make change management easy to handle. Change management has become a buzzword lately. In this article, we will look at key principles of change management so that you can bring positive change and manage them efficiently.
Change Starts at the Top from Day One
Whenever you’ll talk about introducing change within your department or organization, you will be greeted with some backlash and resistance from your employees. This happens since the employees are used to old practices and adopting newer trends becomes tedious for them.
Top management can easily get over this problem by using a top-down approach, i.e. change at the top and then let it trickle down. Employees always look up at their top management for adoption of change, if they feel that you are only implementing changes on them, then they will surely resist. On the other hand, if they see top management committing and aligning to change initiative then they will accept the change.
“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!” – Peter Senge
Address the Human Side “Systematically”
If you do not consider the human side of things, then you will have a hard time in managing and implementing changes. Dealing with such issues with a reactive approach will complicate things even further. Keep all the stakeholders involved and take them on board before implementing changes.
Take input from them and value their opinions and address genuine issues that might be troubling the employees. If you fail to understand the problems they will face because of changes, you cannot be able to resolve their problems.
“Human behavior is only unpredictable and dangerous if you don’t start from humanity in the first place.” – Stan Slap
The Real Change Comes At the Bottom
Although, the top management and leaders are initiators of change but the real difference comes at the bottom. As the change, the process moves along, the involvement of employees increases. Tasks are delegated and roles are defined so that every employee knows what is expected of them.
Implementing these changes are the responsibilities of line managers and every employee has to play his role in making change implementation possible. When the changes are implemented, the major difference will be visible at the bottom that will drive the organization forward.
Have Vision and Faith to Face Reality
Change management and implementation can create doubts in the mind of your employees. It is the responsibility of the leader to have a clear vision and faith in the change he or she wants to bring otherwise, he will not be able to answer questions raised by team members.
Moreover, project managers should make changes by keeping reality in mind. Changes made without considering the ground realities can have extremely negative implications for your business. Keeping the practical aspects in mind prior to introducing and managing change is very important requirement.
“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” – Ralph Lauren
Your change management strategy is useless if your organization cannot understand it, adopt it and take action. The best change management programs put a lot of emphasis on over-communication through multiple channels so that your core message reaches your employees. Establish a two-way communication channel to provide your team members with the right information at the right time. Take regular feedback from them. The best change managers usually convey their message by narrating a story. Additionally, they also show high degrees of personal commitments.
Create Ownership, Not Just Buy-Ins
If you have ever been a part of large-scale change management program, then you might have experienced that they focus on developing distributed and influential leadership that can take decisions on their own. For that to happen, you will have to look beyond passive agreements and buy-ins and take steps that could make your changes acceptable. These decision makers will have to ensure that they implement change in all the areas under their control. Some organizations go as far as creating separate “Design and build” teams, which acts as a catalyst to speed up change implementation.
Access Cultural Landscape Early
One of the biggest mistake companies implementing change make is that they leave cultural and behavior assessment for too late or ignore it completely. Without the proper understanding of organization culture and behavior of your team members, all your change management efforts will be fruitless. That is why it is important to access the cultural landscape and individual behavior from the beginning. Identify core values, beliefs, perceptions and behaviors because they are the key cultural aspects that could influence on your change management efforts. Whether you are upgrading your infrastructure or revamping the corporate vision, you need to focus on cultural factors to prevent backlash later.
Explicitly Target Culture and Attack the Cultural Center
Your organizational culture is a mixture of values, history, core beliefs, and attitudes. Most change management programs will ask you to make changes to your company culture, which is not an easy thing to do. Identify the flaws of the current company culture and try to fix those flaws in the new organizational culture. You need to develop a new vision and plan to introduce changes into the culture. Leaders will set a direction and use strategies that will speed up the cultural change process. The best way to do that is to attack the cultural center of the company in an effective manner.
“Growing a culture requires a good storyteller. Changing a culture requires a persuasive editor.” – Ryan Lilly
Speak To the Institution and Individual
If you want to manage and implement change then you will have to address both institution and individual. Teams should be fully aware of how changes will affect their work. What is expected of them during the change and after the change program? Questions like these and many more need to be answered. Reward employees and teams that play an important part in the reinforcement of change. Effective change management is not possible without talking to the institution as well as individuals.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Last, but certainly not the least is to prepare yourself for the unexpected. In today’s dynamic world, where everything moves at a rapid pace, expect a shift in external as well as in internal environments. You have to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of your change efforts. Take advantage of data and tweak your decision-making processes accordingly. This will help change leaders and change managers in achieving better results with change management.