Managing Change (whether at a personal or organizational level) is difficult but the following six tips can help smooth the process of implementing change in organizations.
- Team Formation: A cross-functional team should be formed with the specific task of implementing change. Representation from all departments, for example, Human Resource, Marketing, Customer Service and Finance will ensure that the idea of change disseminates throughout your company. Adding the “right” team members can make the difference between your change effort working or failing. The people on the change management team need to have the ability to empathize with others. These people should be opinion-leaders who are widely respected within your company. And taking a cue from President Lincoln do not be averse to the idea of including individuals in your team who have disagreed vigorously with your point of view in the past.
- Goal Setting: Goal setting gives direction to your change management effort. The targets that you set for your company need to be SMART (i.e. specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound) For example a goal that says “reduction in customer query response time from three business days to two business days by 25th December 2016 through hiring three additional customer services representatives” would be SMART. However, a goal that says “let’s increase customer satisfaction by hiring more people this year” would not meet the criteria of being SMART, as defined above.
- Tracking results: Any change effort needs to be avidly tracked to gauge its success. For example, if you change your marketing pitch, a call tracking report will tell you whether the change resulted in incremental sales or not. You can use this information to adjust your marketing campaigns to optimize sales.
- Involving employees: Involving the people who will be impacted by the change and getting their honest feedback is essential. This will ensure commitment from all stakeholders because when people’s voices have been heard they are more willing to accept changes. For example, a brainstorming session on how a particular customer problem can be solved would be a good idea. If an actual customer is invited to the brainstorming session that is even better.
- Gradual implementation: Rather than implementing drastic changes, it is better to move at a pace that allows for organic adaptation. An organic adaption provides all involved a chance to assimilate to the change without enduring shocks that can be devastating to morale and team spirit. Metered implementation of changes also allow you to track results by correlating effect with a single new change. Keep concurrent introduction of several new interdependent variables at a minimum.
- Open and honest communication: The most important aspect of the change process is timely, clear and truthful communication. If people understand the rationale behind the change they are more likely to support the initiative as opposed to a change that is suddenly imposed on them. Effecting a qualitative and quantitative change requires buy-in from the people who will be the change enablers. So communicate with honesty and accountability.