Change in today’s business environment is a necessity not an option. Given that the single biggest reason for the astonishingly high 70% failure rate of ALL business change initiatives has been the over-emphasis on process rather than people.
Here are the 4 key steps to managing incremental change in the workplace:
1. Clarity in all areas
Before going anywhere with a proposed change you need to have radical clarity with regard to:
- The business need for the change
- The specifics of the change
- The benefits of the change
- Most importantly the impacts of the change
When leading or managing a team, you should be prepared to answer the following questions from employees:
- How’s it going to be different when I’ve made the change?
- Why am I doing this – how’s it going to benefit me?
- How will I know it’s benefited me?
- Who’s it going to affect and how will they react?
- What can I do to get them “on side”?
- What risks and issues do I have to face?
- What steps do I have to take to make the changes and get the benefit?
- How am I going to manage all this so that it happens and I succeed?
2. Consistent leadership
This will require strong leadership and visible support from key people within your organization. Managing change isn’t enough – you have to lead it.
Leadership and management guru William Bridges offers these 3 simple questions:
- What is changing? – Put together a short and clear verbal statement of under 60 seconds duration that summarizes why the change is necessary and your intentions – what organizational benefit you hope to realize.
- What will actually be different because of the change? – Tell them exactly and precisely where and how things will be different after the change.
- Who’s going to lose what? – Don’t “gloss over” or attempt to minimize what they will lose and have to let go of. Be direct, honest and empathic in your truthful recognition of what the impact of your change will mean for them.
You will gain more respect and minimize mistrust by being truthful.
3. Constant communication
You can never “over communicate” in leading and managing a change situation and especially with regard to what is happening or not happening and why.
Five Guiding principles of a good change management communication process:
- Clarity of message – to ensure relevance and recognition
- Resonance of message – the emotional tone and delivery of the message
- Accurate targeting – to reach the right people with the right message
- Timing schedule – to achieve timely targeting of messages
- Feedback process – to ensure genuine two way communication
4. Capability and resources
This is about ensuring that your people have the full resources and capabilities they need to support them through the change. This all boils down to: translating vision and strategy into actionable steps.
As leader of the change, you now face the equally if not more difficult challenge of getting the staff to deliver your new change idea and achieve the organizational benefits that you anticipate.
Following these basic steps will increase the likelihood of the successful implementation of key programs or initiatives in your organization.