The world that we conduct business in is constantly evolving. Consumer trends change. Technology advances making some industries obsolete, while at the same time opening up new horizons for others. Companies merge. Companies downsize. Sometimes companies diversify, other times they choose to focus on delivering just one thing.
If your organization finds itself in the position where major change is not just inevitable, but necessary for continued growth and survival, it’s critical that you have effective organizational change management processes in place to guide your employees through the journey.
Employees who aren’t engaged in the process or who fail to understand it can hinder your change plans – and in the worst case scenario, can actively resist and undermine your change. So, too, can ineffective leadership. A whopping 70 per cent of change initiatives result in failure, making them both costly and potentially disastrous.
These are the key steps you can’t afford to overlook during your change management process:
Be clear about what you want to achieve
Outline what you want to achieve and why it is necessary. How does this align to your overall business goals and the future direction of your company? By setting this out clearly at the beginning, you can use it to navigate your way through the change process.
Identify who will be affected by your changes
Sometimes organizational change will affect every single employee in the company. Other times it might just be a handful of staff who will face changes. It’s important to determine what the impact of change will be on your organization and determine which staff members will need to be consulted, supported and kept informed throughout the process.
Some organizational changes affect people outside your company too such as customers, partners and other stakeholders. You need to determine what the changes will mean, if anything, for these groups as well.
Communicate your change
It’s important to develop a communication strategy to take your stakeholders – internal and external – along on the journey. You should focus on developing key messages that explain why change is necessary and what steps are going to be taken to achieve it. Your communications strategy should also include how often you will communicate (the more frequently, the better) and what delivery channels you are going to use to relay your messages.
Offer training and support
Depending on the nature of your changes, you may need to support your employees through it. If change includes, say, layoffs, what help will you give those employees who are departing? What support will be given to those who remain who may now have different workloads? If change is about doing different work or implementing new systems, what will you do to ease your employees into the new way of doing things?
Processes and procedures need to be put in place to determine if the change activity has been successful or not. This should be something that is measurable: what were the original goals and what has the end result been?