It might come as a cliché, but to survive, a company must change constantly. The economy presses organizations to evolve, as hard as nature pressures animals. New rivals arrive to the market, consumers emerge and vanish, new product demands claim attention, jams and conflicts need solutions, processes are to be optimized and recessions to react to, etc.
1. Missing structure
It may be tempting to rush into a change project. However, rushing the plans will inevitably backfire. A protracted change project interferes with day-to-day work, overstretches the budget, neglects clients, overstresses the employees, etc.
The SMART goal framework may land a hand with the first steps. You design the whole process around the goal you are to achieve. To start a change project, the minimal – but not only – points to discuss are as follows:
- What is the problem to solve?
- What goal do we want to reach?
- How to quantify the goal?
2. Don’t sale to the employee, make them engaged
Leaders by principle make the decision behind closed doors, maybe with the help of the management team. They discuss pain points, areas where the company falls short, and come up with a solution.
A change project, that involves the subordinates from the beginning, starts with listening to and actually using their opinions and using joint effort to come up with a plan, has a much higher engagement and participation rate. Moreover, the employee see that their views are implemented during the change, making their work that much easier and more effective. This is means a better motivation and higher engagement.
3. Inform them, instead of hyping
A second problem of the introductory sales speech is that it often focuses greatly on emotions. It tends to overrepresent and glorify the necessity of change. However, the employee will inevitably be scared of change – sometimes not without basis – and will resist these prepackaged feelings. Still, it is well advised to proactively answer a couple of the most frequently asked questions during the first declaration of the change project. For example:
- What will change and what is the goal of the change?
- Will there be layoffs, and if yes, who will be affected by it?
- Will there be reassignments, and if yes, who will be affected by it?…
4. Reach more employee
During the whole change process the communication should be constant and two-way. However, the management must not be overburdened by this, or strategical decision making will be hindered. How to keep contact then with the subordinates?
By organizing a change ambassador team. Change management teams are usually selected via organizational network analysis.
5. Reward change
You have two ways to make the change last by rewarding. The first is to create a compensation package for the affected parties. Those, who have to work more because of the project, have their job description changed, are reassigned to a different position, will lose their moral.
The second way of using rewards is to reinvent performance evaluation and performance based payments. The old system gets deprecated during the change, and will no longer suit the needs of the company (or the employee).
Battleplans are known to fail at the first minute of the battle. The clock ticks for the change project. Budget falls short, teams are overwhelmed, market demand changes, new goals are found, that are suddenly more important. The unexpectable is expected to happen.
This is why you need to set a systematic reevaluation protocol. This process should double check:
- The current state of our goals.
- If the goals are still relevant…
7. Change fatigue
If the leaders find multiple problems to solve, they try to be effective and defeat every one of them in one run. And run multiple change projects parallel to each other. This will almost certainly dooms every project to fail. Multiple projects are simply past the change capacity of the workforce. Best if any one given employee takes part in only one change project. So, for example, two separate units can work on two different projects without overexerting the employee.