“Change will not come if we wait for someone or another time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama
Stirring words indeed from the US president, but from a business perspective, they ring a little hollow. Anyone who is involved in business management will tell you that change certainly does come. In fact, sometimes it seems that the only constant changes.
Mergers, acquisitions, restructures emerging markets, new technology, and the latest marketing platforms: change presents a daily challenge to managers.
It’s all change!
The ability to manage change effectively is a key skill for managers, which is why it is a critical part of the CMI Level 6 Diploma in Management and Leadership.
With research revealing that many organisational changes fail to achieve their objectives, how can managers effectively implement change?
On your CMI Level 6 you will learn how to pay close attention to the process of implementing change.
You have probably already discovered that making changes is a challenge. It can be a slow, painful and expensive process.
You are not alone in finding change difficult. The status quo is comfortable for many and one of the hardest things to try and change is people’s attitudes and behaviour.
Making it happen
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”
Let’s assume that you have already made a sound business case for change. You also have clear objectives in place.
Now, all you have to do is make it happen.
Here’s how you can implement change effectively.
Implementing change requires having a well-thought through process in place – and this checklist can be used to structure your planning.
The change checklist
1. Agree the strategy
- You need a clear strategy for your change implementation.
- Will this be top-down, bottom-up or a mix of both?
- Will it be introduced by division, by department or organisation-wide?
- Who are the key influencers?
- How will change be communicated?
- What other corporate initiatives are taking place concurrently – and how does this fit in with them?
2. Set clear timeframes
- Whilst every change programme needs a start date it is also just as vital that milestones are factored in and that there is a finite time allowed for completion.
3. Draw up detailed plans
- Make sure you involve key personnel in drawing up your detailed plans for the implementation.
- You should empower line managers to determine how to implement the change in their areas of responsibility.
- You must detail how progress will be monitored and reported to the senior management team.
- You need a risk and stakeholder analysis.
“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”
4. Create a team of change champions
- It is important that at least one board member is part of your change champions, alongside the key people involved in delivering the change and those affected by it.
5. Communicate clearly
- Communication is critical to any change programme’s success.To plan your communication strategy you should identify:
- What the right messages are.
- Who the right people are.
- What the right channels are.
- Bear in mind that your change communication should include company-wide messages.
- Throughout the process you must keep listening and always respond quickly to rumours and misinformation.
“The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades.”
John P. Kotter
6. Manage conflict effectively
- Change brings uncertainty and stress. Uncertainty and stress often lead to conflict.
- Bring conflicts to the surface quickly rather than allow them to build unaddressed to a boil.
- Examine and analyse any conflicts that arise with those involved and seek resolution.
- If this does not work then negotiation and persuasion skills will need to come to the fore.
7. Develop skills
- Change can be used as a learning process. If it is used as such, it can greatly improve motivation.
- Develop the technical and interpersonal skills of affected areas of the organisation.
- Ensure that specific training is offered to enable the planned change, such as providing an induction into new systems and technologies.
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
8. Keep going
- Incremental change is often a long process that stops and starts: maintaining enthusiasm can be tough, but it is essential.
- If the initial enthusiasm flags and the pace of change slows you need strategies in place to create a fresh sense of purpose.
- Remember that different people are motivated by different types of reward.
9. Monitor and evaluate
- Monitor and evaluate the results of the change programme against the goals and milestones that were set.
- Are these still appropriate or do they need revising?
- Do the measures still align with organisational vision and goals?
- Are targets being met?
- Is corrective action needed?
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”
John F. Kennedy
If you want to understand more about the most effective ways to manage change it forms part of the CMI Level 6 Diploma in Management and Leadership. You can find out more about the course here.
Article by Brighton School of Business and Management
Also read: Why Change is Important in Business