Top Ten Tips... Managing Change in the Workplace
As we face life after lockdown, change is inevitable and necessary so that businesses can move from survival mode to thrive once again. However, fear is a completely normal reaction to change and your employees are likely to feel apprehensive about any major redevelopments.
Managing any changes in your workplace can be tricky but here are our Top Ten Tips:
1. Understand the change process
No two change management projects will be the same but they will all have a starting point and an endpoint. The change process is everything which happens in between and is typically grouped into three main stages: preparation, implementation and follow through. Having a clear idea about what the road ahead and your future might look like for your company and your employees is really important.
2. Figure out why changes are needed
To effectively manage change in your business, you must first understand why you need to change. Many of your businesses and their employees will have seen massive changes during lockdown and, due to the major shift we’ve seen in the economy, many of these have been necessary to simply survive. Other pressures which might be driving the need for change might be a new leadership team, new competitors, new technology, a new type of customer or demand for a different kind of product or service.
3. Create a plan of action
Once you have understood what your motivation for change is, you need to create a plan. It should positively showcase why changes are needed, what the scope will be, who will be involved, whether there will be a project team, timescales and any financial investment needed. Your plan needs to be realistic, ambitious but achievable. There’s no point creating an overly ambitious plan which is likely to fall short of your expectations.
4. Engage with your workforce
Your plans for change are likely to only work if key stakeholders within your company understand why it needs to happen and are invested in it. Engaging with your workforce is important and will be a huge source of intelligence which can shape the development of your plan. People tend to fear or resent changes imposed upon them. You have an opportunity to make your workforce part of the changes that are happening so they feel a sense of ownership and control over what’s happening.
5. Communicate your plans to employees
Effective communication with your colleagues at all levels is key to ensuring any period of change runs as smoothly as possible. You must be able to communicate the change process and the need for redevelopment to your employees to help them understand why it’s necessary and how they can help the company to make it a successful and positive experience where possible. Your employees need to know how it will affect their jobs.
6. Listen to feedback
Any major changes which affect your workforce are bound to cause anxiety, stress and to create a lot of questions. Your employees will likely need reassurance from you about what their future potentially looks like. It’s also important to be open, honest and available to answer questions from your employees.
7. Communicate your plans to stakeholders
As well as communicating your plans to your employees, your stakeholders are a key audience and support network. Your key stakeholders could be your trustees, your board of directors or your senior management team. If they have initiated the need for change, you will need to regularly update them on the status of your change project. No pressure! If you have suggested that changes are needed, you’re likely to need their approval and support along the way.
8. Plan for every eventuality
You can make detailed plans but you are bound to discover roadblocks along the way. No period of change will be problem free – so plan to flex your problem-solving muscles! You should encourage your employees to communicate what obstacles are in their way and how they are preventing them changing the way they work. These issues could be ingrained cultural behaviours amongst your management team or workforce. They could be linked to a lack of technology, resources or employees in certain positions.
9. Empower your colleagues to learn
Managing a major change project might be tough and not everyone is equipped with the skills to do so. You might need to look at how your resources affect the changes. Do you have colleagues with the right management skills? You could offer training opportunities to co-workers already in key roles. Using existing employees rather than recruiting someone new can also feel less threatening to your team.
10. Keep it positive
The need for change can often feel negative and retrospective. The perception is that something must not be working well for the changes to be needed. But it can also be a positive experience for you and your employees if you manage the tone of your change management project well. Thanks to lockdown, the world we work in is already feeling incredibly different for many of us. The changes we have seen have been truly unprecedented but as we see lockdown restrictions begin to lift, it’s the perfect time to introduce the need for change. Keeping it all positive will ensure it remains an empowering experience for everyone involved!
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