Change is hard. People are naturally resistant to it. Even when we acknowledge that the current state of affairs in our organization might be less than ideal, many of us will default to inertia. To successfully fight this uphill battle and make a change, business leaders must have a roadmap and a commitment to following that roadmap.
Here are six steps business leaders should follow in implementing change.
- Identify the goal. Assuming you aren’t pursuing change for change’s sake, you need to identify what you’re trying to accomplish. Clearly define it; don’t let extraneous initiatives or thoughts muddy the waters. It doesn’t take much to create confusion among the group whose behavior you’re looking to modify.
- Build the case. The rationale for change is usually easier for business leaders to make; they see an issue, know it needs to be addressed, and build a logical case for implementing a new way of doing things. However, too many businesses don’t pay attention to the emotional side of change; this emotional piece of the puzzle is where most resistance to change resides—think of it as a fear of the unknown. This requires empathy for the workforce to ensure that they are convinced that change is the right path forward. After all, you need their buy-in and support to get where you intend to go.
- Get influencers on board. There are almost certainly key, influential employees at all levels of the company— not necessarily managers. Court their opinion early on in the process. This is often best done by establishing a task force of employees to help shepherd the process forward, and giving them active roles in the implementation of the change initiative.
- Communicate clearly. It’s vitally important to accurately assess employees’ current views on the state of their jobs, and what the change will mean to them. That requires understanding the impact on the organization from the bottom up, rather than simply from management’s viewpoint. The transformation you’re implementing will likely create shifts in peoples’ jobs, and they will have questions about that impact. It’s important to be prepared to answer them, and also to be able to make it clear why the possible difficulty of making changes is important in the grander scheme of things.
- Avoid scope creep. When trying to change behavior, focus is key. Avoid layering in additional goals or activities, no matter how related they may be. Keep the ask as streamlined as possible.
- Keep communicating. Just because you’ve reached the end of the project plan doesn’t mean you’re finished. Old habits die hard, and organizations can slip backwards if they aren’t vigilant about safeguarding change. It’s important for your business to keep making the changed behavior a point of emphasis long after the change project “ends.”
Implementing transformation requires planning and perseverance in the face of resistance to change. But, when done well, the result is often a third “p”—profit.
Contact us at 215.441.4600 or Email if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.
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