Change management can feel like an overwhelming subject, especially if you’re looking at starting a journey to embrace change in your business.
We understand this, and this month, we look at three key points to ensure any change is a success. These three points may sound simple, but sometimes the simple things give the biggest results.
Point 1 – What is the change going to be?
This sounds obvious. You’re probably wondering why we are starting with something that really does sound like everyone should know it! Well…
Regardless of whether you’re a multinational with hundreds of employees or an SME with maybe 20 staff, this may not be as easy as it sounds. There are likely to be departments, teams and even locations with slightly different takes on the change that needs to happen within the business. Whilst the difference in views may seem subtle, they could potentially have a massive impact on how someone perceives what should happen. Which can, at worst, derail any project and, at best, cause confusion.
The larger or more complex your business is, then the potential for confusion really grows!
So, as much as this sounds like stating the obvious, it is important to ensure that everyone has the same view of what success means in this case. A clear statement of what the change is should be defined and shared with all stakeholders. Are there key measurements that you need to take before and after? Perhaps success is not so tangible?
Spending time at the start to really nail what the change looks like will be worth its weight in gold as the activities to achieve the change progress. Put simply, we strongly recommend you plan and produce a strategy for your change.
This may feel like extra work before you even get stuck into the meat of the project, but it will help with the rest of the process going forward.
Point 2 – Set the expectations at the right level!
This feels simple again, right? Well, again, it is, but it is something which can often be overlooked.
Because of the nature of how all businesses work, there are naturally going to be different perceptions and objectives as we talked about above. But these may be driven by the fact that different parts of any business will naturally have different needs and hence how they will be impacted by change. This is where a good communication with line managers and team leaders is invaluable to ensure a common message is cascaded throughout.
Change is often driven from the top level of a business down. However, this can mean that for those at ground level or on the shop floor, it often feels like this change is being ‘done to’ them. This in turn will cause problems as employees feel they are powerless to have any effect on the change or that they are not being listened to.
However, once line managers are on board, given they are much closer to the bulk of your workforce, they will be able to ensure there is good communication and feedback in both directions.
This will help ensure everyone’s expectations are aligned and most importantly that they are in line with the overall strategic objectives for change.
At this point it’s worth pointing out too that not everyone is going to initially agree with the change, no matter how much groundwork is done. In these cases, it could be as simple as how the message is delivered! We all absorb information in different ways and so again this is where a good communication plan will ensure key messages are delivered in more than one way, so not only “town hall” style but also online, via email, in person and so on. Line managers will also have the best insight as to how their teams “tick” and so who needs what type of communication.
Point 3 – Be clear!
Again, this sounds like another obvious statement to make and we make no apologies for it! However, we are sure that we can all think of times when mixed messages have caused issues. This will only be exacerbated if our definition of change hasn’t been properly completed.
Being clear may mean that there is a single thread of communication which comes from one single person. But it can also be very much about organisational culture and what is acceptable in terms of behaviour driving forward change.
The language used is also a key factor. What works at the board level may not be appropriate for a warehouse team. So it is important to have clear, simple messaging delivered at the right time to the right audience.
At the end of the day, this could look very different for each business, and this is where our team come in. We have experienced change not only in almost all our clients’ businesses but also in our own here at Gradient. We have had to navigate the same challenges as you, so we understand both the good and bad of change management.
Whilst these three points are striking in their simplicity, they are important because they will have the biggest impact on a business before they begin their change management journey.
So, if you’re looking to drive organisational change, or are trying to recover a project which has stalled, then please get in touch. One conversation could be just what you need to kickstart 2024.