Change is inevitable. Like time, we cannot stop it. To not only survive but thrive in today’s business environment, you must not only accept change but must also embrace change. Given that accepting change is one of the more difficult things we mere mortals must do, having a plan, a strategic plan to manage change in your business is critical to success.
To understand how to be successful with change lets first look at the “Not’s” of change management. There are six of them:
Not creating consensus and buy-in for change: Change doesn’t happen because one person says so. Whether it is the business owner, a work unit head or anyone else, change requires a group effort. One person can be the idea behind a change. It takes good partnerships to make change happen.
Not Creating a Sense of Urgency: Change is often stymied because change leaders do not establish a strong sense of urgency. Some would tell you that real change can take years. While that may be true in some things, change can happen much faster than that. Creating the right sense of urgency can make change management successful.
Not creating a strong vision for change: Without knowing where you want to go, no one understands what change will do for them or the business. Creating a vision, storytelling as it is often called, ensures that everyone understands the who, what, when, where, why, and how of change.
Not communicating effectively: We call this the information age. Information about what is happening, what will occur, what obstacles or challenges exist or may surface are all powerful pieces of information necessary to create successful change. Attempting change without a solid communication plan is dooming change to failure.
Not removing obstacles and barriers: Whether you call them speed bumps, problems or barriers, the simple fact is that these things will occur in any change effort. The ability to successfully address these issues is to understand how to manage conflict in the workplace and ensuring that the skills exist in everyone involved.
Not creating short-term wins: Sometimes, change takes a long time. The time can seem daunting to the point that it creates complacency and thereby stopping change efforts. Creating small short term wins, and celebrating them, makes longer processes seem shorter while keeping everyone engaged and supporting of the overall change effort.
Not binding change to the organization’s culture: If you want change to stick around, you have to show how change benefited the company. This has to be done so that should those desiring the change ever leave the business, the change stays in place. Not only must this be communicated but it must also become part of how future leaders of the organization are trained. Regardless of where one is in the organization, defining the change in a way that shows their role has benefited from the change is critical to long-term success.
Accepting change is difficult so it becomes obvious then that a successful strategy for managing change in your business is to avoid the “Nots”. To ensure success, you should review the Six “Nots” and develop a “Will” list for each one. The “Will” list describes, in broad general terms, what you will do to avoid creating the “Not” For example; “Not creating consensus and buy-in for change.” To avoid the “Not” you would ensure that you “Will”put together a group with enough buy-in and influence to successfully make the change happen. Another example would be “Not removing obstacles and barriers.” To avoid this “Not” you would ensure that your change management group understands the value of removing obstacles and barriers. Further, that they grasp the fundamental skills to successfully address these conflicts with change and can use those skills to develop real solutions.
Change is inevitable. Like time, it moves forward, and nothing will stop it. Understanding that can make the power of change and change management a valuable tool for the long-term success of your business.