Managing Change

imagesThe business environment is constantly shifting and businesses must keep up with changes in new technology, new ideas and competition.  Thus, managing change in an organization while meeting the needs of customers and stakeholders is an important skill to have for teams and managers. Change needs to be planned and implemented carefully and should be achievable, realistic and measurable.

Before beginning to implement change, evaluate whether the change is necessary by asking these questions:

1. What is the purpose of the change, how will we evaluate the change and its success and determine whether or not it has been achieved? Will it be a gradual change or a fast change?

2. What parts of the change can we achieve ourselves and what aspects do we need assistance with? Who could assist us with those parts?

3. Who will be affected by the change, how will it impact them, and how will they respond to it?For change to succeed, there must be an alignment of a company’s culture, values, people, and behaviors to create a culture of commitment and performance. Below are tips for achieving this:1. Major changes in an organization can involve changes in leadership and jobs, which can create a feeling of uncertainty among employees.   A plan for managing these changes should be created early and implemented as changes takes place in the organization.  This plan should be based on an analysis of the company’s background, preparedness, and magnitude for change.

4. The leadership team must be aligned and committed to the changes and model the desired behaviors. Executive teams that are aligned with the change are more likely to succeed. Also, the leadership team needs to challenge and motivate others and give them support, direction, and strength in the time of change.3. Change effects multiple levels of an organization and these levels and the leaders in them should be involved in implementing the change.  The responsibility for design and implementation should be pushed down so that change flows through the organization and teams should be trained and supported at each level. This process can also help an organization identify new leaders.

5. It is important to create a formal case with a written vision statement to explain why change is necessary. People will naturally want to know if the change is needed, if the company is making a good decision for the future and whether they want to participate in the change.  To address these concerns, leaders must provide a convincing need for change, for example, they may say that change is the only way that the business can remain viable.  Leaders must also show that the company has a viable future.

6. Leaders must be willing to take ownership of the changes they implement and this is done by participating in finding problem areas and creating solutions and being reinforced by incentives and rewards.

7. Important messages should be reinforced on a continual basis with messages that are practical and encouraging to employees. Employees should be given the right information at the right time and given the chance to provide feedback.

8. Leaders should be familiar with the behaviors and culture of the various levels of an organization, which can help them assess preparedness for change, conflicts, resistance, beliefs, and values. These factors need to be considered for successful change to take place. Leaders should be specific about the culture that will best support their business and reward behaviors that are in alignment with that culture.  Managing change can involve creating a new culture, combining cultures (such as in mergers), or maintaining an established culture.

9. It is important to talk to the people about changes and help them adjust. Individuals should be informed about how their job responsibilities will change, how their performance will be evaluated, and what rewards they may receive for assisting the change, such as recognition, promotion or bonuses.

The impact of change must be assessed on a regular basis in order to effectively manage it, and the organization must be able and willing to embrace continued change.  Leaders need to analyze information from the field, utilize effective decision making processes, and make adjustments as needed to keep moving forward and keep the organization on a successful path.




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