Change is inevitable. The natural world we live in depends upon change for the renewal of life. Without change life would become stagnate and boring. Companies are subject to similar laws. Nothing new would ever occur. New technology would not be invented, innovation would be stifled, learning would not take place and we would not grow to reach our full potential.
Growth thrives on change. Disruptive technologies change the way business is conducted. Employees come and go leaving others behind to adjust to new staff. New processes and procedures are written and adopted to meet changing needs of production. Most people dread change but think about what life would be like without it. Navigating change successfully should not be left to random chance it should be closely managed like any other business function.
Organizations change for many reasons. Changes take place as a response to environmental conditions. Technology advances at an exponential rate and to keep up with those changes businesses need to adapt. Market conditions are constantly changing as does consumer demand for goods and services. Organizational growth and mergers and acquisitions are also drivers of change. Poor performance also drives change as companies scramble to improve their bottom line or face closing their doors.
How Change Occurs
Change is a process and not an event. Change should be planned and take place slowly over time. Rushing often causes future difficulties. It seems we never have time to do something right, but we always have time to do it over. Change can affect a small segment of an organization or the entire operation. Change can be planned and meticulously implemented or can be forced as a reaction to an external event. It can be radical or incremental.
How to Manage Change
The discipline of change management is really about managing people through the process of change. Machinery and equipment does not care about change but people do:
Identify the changes to be made. What is the reason for change? What is the desired outcome of the proposed change?
Map out what the current operation looks like, what will the transition period look like and what is the desired result of the changes.
Communicate changes and why the changes need to take place. Request feedback to manage the process and make adjustments as needed. It is vitally important to have management and employee buy-in for the planned change.
Assemble a change implementation team to avoid driving change from top down. Involve employees at different levels of the organization to achieve a “bottom up” result.
Identify the four types of personalities that will develop naturally during the process. All of these must be dealt with to make sure the change is effective.
The victim will only look at the change from their perspective. How will the change affect them and what they do?
The neutral bystander will not impede progress but will not steward it along either.
The critic will offer unsolicited opinions along the way usually with a negative slant.
The advocate will help foster change. This group will champion for change.
Change to Sustain Improvements
One of the risks of not changing is becoming obsolete. Organizations that embrace change and see it as a positive part of growth are healthy and dynamic. Companies that resist change and do not recognize the value of change risk suffering a slow and painful death.
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