The fact is…change is hard. Very hard. Anyone who has ever been through change, personally or professionally, will most likely agree. And it’s not something you can exactly check off your list…like tasks on a project plan.
New business initiatives, new technology, new processes and procedures, leadership changes – all require new behaviors and ways of doing things.
Did you notice the word “behavior?” Behaviors are what can inhibit or promote change. Behaviors are what can make change a failure or a success. Transformational change requires a shift in mindset and behavior – that can be scary. Most fears can be alleviated with proper planning and managing of change.
Although organizational change is inevitable, that doesn’t mean it has to be painful or costly. So how do you manage change successfully?
Here are 5 tips to reduce some costs and anxieties associated with change:
Build and Nurture Relationships
Building and nurturing relationships with impacted stakeholders – internal, external, and customers – is key to success. It’s how you build trust – and trust is a surefire way to help change go more smoothly. Change leaders need a face. They need a presence. Cameo appearances or a name without a face (and a personality to connect it with) won’t yield the trusted relationships needed for success. Building trust allows people to be more open and honest with sharing fears and concerns and is more likely to provide an atmosphere where people are willing to share the type of data and feedback you need to develop successful solutions for positive change.
Segment your Audience Groups
Communication – timely and accurate communication – is imperative to successful change. It ultimately depends on what type of change is going on within your organization – though in most cases you need to communicate different messages (or slightly modified yet consistent messages) to different audience groups at different times. For people to buy-in to change you need to tell them what they need to hear, how they need to hear it, the way it needs to be heard. The impacts, quick wins, and WIIFM (what’s in it for me) messaging is going to be different for each stakeholder group. To make sure you can target messaging correctly you’ll want these audience groups segmented at the onset and you’ll want the needs and concerns of these different audience groups identified at the onset – this should occur as part of change readiness.
Be Visible and Accessible
If you’re a sponsor or champion of the change then you best be comfortable with being visible and have a personality that is approachable. You can’t be just a name on an organization chart or a ‘title.’ Organizations often make the mistake of assigning sponsors based on role and title and not on personality or desire to lead change. The less you’re a visible sponsor, the less you energetically promote the change, the less likely stakeholders are to engage and commit to change. Lead by example. The behavior people see is what most consider acceptable and what most will follow – or not follow. You need to be on the ground. You need an active role. You need visibility.
Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Do what you say. Follow through is imperative for success. Lack of timely follow thru impacts trust, sends a bad message, slows the change process, and limits relationship building. Not following through in a timely manner sets a level of distrust not to mention pushes back timelines and contributes to increased project costs and decreased performance from stakeholders. People notice. Be helpful don’t be a hurdle.
Do the Hard Work
TADA! POOF! Positive change has occurred! Ok…maybe in lala land the change wizard can wave a magic wand and change achieved with all stakeholders happy and successful . Now, back to reality! Change does not happen because someone says so. Change does not occur simply by checking off boxes. It happens because committed people take the time and effort to plan and do the hard work – personally and organizationally – needed for success. It’s hard work to learn and exhibit new behaviors that create and support positive change – but it’s worth it.
Short and sweet – change does NOT happen overnight. Even the smallest change within an organization can take months. Large scale? You may hate to hear this, but, it can take years! Planning. Commitment. Patience. Small steps. Quick wins. Long journey…succcess!
About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions – an Organizational Effectiveness & Strategy firm. He helps clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business.