Due to evolving technologies, changing customer trends, new market regulations and an unprecedented global crisis, preparing for change has become one of the most critical success factors for any business. Change management requires new technology implementations, process updates, maintaining compliance, restructuring teams or customer service improvements.
If a company is planning to make major changes, it should deploy a change management strategy, but many entrepreneurs don’t know where to start. Therefore, we’re sharing the essential details on what change management entails, how to launch a strategy and how it can help a business grow.
What Change Management Entails
Change management is a systematic approach that involves managing the transition or transformation within a business through the adoption of new processes, tools and technologies for organizational success. The purpose of every change management initiative is to successfully implement strategies and methods to help businesses accept and adapt to change within their organizations.
Change management represents how business leaders manage their processes, systems, organizational structures and job roles during a time of transition to deliver the desired results. The bigger and more complex a business is, the more challenging it is to implement change effectively. Therefore, the success of a large-scale transformation demands more strategic and tactical plans.
“Change management helps you look at the impacts to people – how they're going to react to the barriers to adopting that change – and help them, ultimately, to be able to adapt and move forward,” said Rachel Breitbach, the change management and agility practice lead at Farwell.
The two main types of change that can occur within an organization are incremental and transformative. Therefore, it’s vital to understand which one you want to implement.
- You can implement incremental change to improve the current business processes like work practices, policies, job roles and compliance regulations.
- You can implement transformative change to achieve the future goals of a company. It takes time to implement because of its focus on changing organizational culture and shaping behavior.
Change management includes two popular tools that you can use to seamlessly adapt to new changes in your organization:
Flowcharts or Process Maps
– These tools can help you visualize and map out the various processes in the organization. You can add any change planned or implemented to the existing flowchart for future reference.
– The ADKAR (awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement) model is a coaching tool that ensures the people or employees involved in the change management process support the change. The tool includes a set of the following goals that every team leader should consider:
- Inform the employees which change you are implementing and why.
- Build a desire in your employees to support the change so they can do their part naturally rather than forcing them to do so.
- Make sure employees improve their knowledge and ability through training to adapt to the change.
- Reinforce the changes through incentives and rewards to employees.
How to Launch a Change Management Strategy
A change management plan defines steps that a company should take to execute the change management process. These steps can help entrepreneurs understand and manage change and engage the entire organization in the process. It includes a set of practices, tools and techniques that can ensure your change initiative is successful. A change management plan is critical to ensure that the transition is smooth and does not lead to customer attrition.
In today's ever-changing business world, having a change management plan should be one of the top priorities of businesses to successfully navigate change. Every change approach depends on your business’ practices, goals, vision and the nature of the change. However, you can effectively implement a change management process in the following five essential steps.
1. Review and Plan Your Goals
Conduct a critical review of your business activities and performance goals to ensure that the change will help you achieve your business objectives as follows:
- Identify what you should change, why you need to change and what will be improved after you implement the change.
- Clearly define the change you are planning and align it to your business goals.
- Outline the performance, knowledge and skills gaps that your online training program should address.
2. Assign Accountability and Support
In this step, you must find employees who can execute your change plan and can communicate the change to others as follows:
- Once you know what you wish to achieve, build a team to carry out the change and integrate it into your corporate culture. Then provide a timeline to implement it.
- Your team should first determine the impacts of the change at various organizational levels.
- Next, the team will review the change’s effect on each business unit.
3. Develop a Communication and Implementation Strategy
Your employees need to understand the reason behind the change, along with whether it can make them more productive or make their jobs easier. Managers can help you create a framework for change and effectively handle resistance within the organization as follows:
- Determine the most effective means of communication for your employees – how you will communicate the change and manage feedback.
- Provide clear instructions on why you're working on the change initiative. Thus, you can keep everyone in the loop about completion milestones.
- Provide a support structure to help employees achieve the proficiency of behaviors and technical skills needed to achieve desired business results.
4. Provide Effective Training
A successful business transformation requires an effective online training program for any new application or process changes that come with the adoption of new processes or technological systems such as software. Develop the training program as follows:
- Determine the best delivery method for your change management training.
- Teach the skills and knowledge to your employees required to operate efficiently and adjust to the proposed changes
- Training and reference materials should be documented and made available for review for future reference. Address the questions and concerns of employees as the change rolls out.
5. Evaluate and Continuously Improve
There should be an effective plan to measure the impact of the changes and identify areas for improvement. Have a continuous monitoring mechanism in place to ensure that the change helps the company increase profits, which includes the following:
- Monitor every aspect of the change taking place in the organization.
- Evaluate your change management plan to determine its effectiveness and document any lessons learned.
- Conduct a training needs analysis to identify gaps in your training strategy.
How Change Management Can Help Businesses
Many change management models have been developed based on research and experience to manage change within an organization. Change management can help entrepreneurs ease the impact of change on organizations, from implementing new software to restructuring teams. It can support a smooth transition and guide your employees through the change journey while minimizing the impact on the staff.
Change management requires you to apply a strategic approach to every change the business takes on. The ability to incorporate necessary changes into your business helps you achieve long-term success. Organizations that are most successful in implementing changes are aware of their current business state and goals. They also measure the success of a change management plan and communicate and replicate it quickly and broadly.
Using the services of a professional change management consultant could ensure that you have complete preparation and planning before implementing any change. They make sure that you have enough time, skills and tools required to handle the change.
Change management can help businesses successfully implement new technologies, understand employee concerns and address those concerns early in the process. Therefore, having a dedicated person responsible for implementing the change management strategy can help you improve your employees' productivity and efficiency.