The Big Question in Planning Change: To change or not?

Sep 21, 2015

Introduction

“Change is the only permanent thing in this world”- remarked the 5th century philosopher Heraclites. It may have been lot easier in those days where change was brought about with sword and propaganda. This utterance wants to find reverberation in today’s corporate kingdoms: sword is replaced with executive decision, propaganda with communications/marketing/advertisements.

Staying relevant in market and be miles ahead of competition mandates companies to reinvent, mould, metamorphose, transform, course correct, re-engineer, shuffle, and myriad different synonyms of one word-Change.

Change is relevant

Why is change required when everything is going fine? One might ask. Monotony can have adverse impacts-professionally and personally. Thankfully nature and life do not allow monotony to stay for long. Same is the case in corporate culture. Be it merger of two companies or a take-over or hiving off businesses (profit making or loss making), change is taking place. This naturally leads to changes in many aspects of conducting business-people, philosophy, processes, software, hardware, market outreach and so on. In this scenario change is imminent and therefore organizations need to undertake steps to kick in changes.

The Mental Flux in Ushering Change

You, as the Capacity Planner in your organization is sitting down to draw the road map to bring in change management. It is natural for the mind to run amok, conjure up images of how the changed workplace would look like- pleasant or a disaster. Therefore, take a few deep breaths, put on your thinking cap and have your writing instruments handy to chalk out the following thoughts:

Objective of Change Management

You are bringing in change management because you (or your organization) have a new way to accomplish something. This “something” is going to give you/your business the edge over others in the market. Whatever be the intent or implementation, change management achieves its purpose only if an equilibrium or homeostasis is attained in the organization and it’s functioning.

An essential tag along is Context. The following text throws light on why context-sensitive approach is vital to successful change management ventures.

Points you must think about…..

Change because you want to: Change is imperative but if your motive is to change because others are doing then it could turn useless. Alignment of your strategic objectives with the change effort is important to avoid changing for its own sake.

  • Everyone in the organization must be on the same page regarding the objectives

  • Integration of changes will happen only if they support achieving these objectives

Consequently a context based approach is required. It helps in performing any diagnostic activities during the change management implementation and importantly enables work force to adapt/change in tune with the organizational change.

Involve a broad range of stakeholders: Agreed, the impetus to change may have come from the higher echelons of the organization but when implemented will affect everyone-full time or contractual workforce. It is wise to involve employees from middle management or even operational levels in the change management strategy. This creates a sense of involvement across all levels and a buy-in from them for change management. Future restructuring of processes, teams, and workforce across locations, business units becomes easier because your employees are not only aware but are taking an active part in the change management exercise.

Impress your workforce with positivity on Change management: employees (especially those resisting change management) will be quick to point out dangers to change as a means of stalling change. Don’t be disheartened because this hurdle provides an opportunity to show them what change can do for them even if the present one is hunky dory.

Keep these action items handy:

  • For objections raised: ask the employees to point out the negatives. Once complete, ask them to suggest the solution to each of their objections. You not only convert a negative into a positive opinion but also involve them from there on

  • Showcase customised scenarios post change: Approach each level/team with a plan that clearly showcases how the team, individuals and organization will be post change. These actionable indicators will provide assurance to the employees that change is indeed good for them

  • Involve their immediate supervisors: the presence of supervisors of employees will bolster your assertion to bring positive outcomes

Ultimately change involves people to change their mind set from objection to accommodation. Courage and discipline together can bring a positive impression to employees. If you mirror their optimism, they can see it and be open to change management.

Anticipate resistance, deal with it: It is human to resist change. Though not expecting industrial action in response to change, you nevertheless will face resistance from managerial cadre as well. A little empathy to their concerns of managing team the envisaged technical environment will help assuage them. A normal survey distribution will attribute 10% employees to oppose any change. Concentrate on the remaining 90% with the following action items:

  • Enlist the support of project manager and leaders of departments to help you present the nature and in a way that employees can understand. Remind yourself of the question “Will the employees be inspired?” when you prepare to face them with the change roadmap.

  • Check the propositions that will cause the most heartburn, keep them for a later point to address in the meeting. Even when presented and objected, park it to discuss with top management for any changes that could elicit a yes from the employees next time

You need to find a way to balance the employee opinions with the mandated changes and at same time encourage them to involve in the change process when executed.

Conclusion

Change management involves dealing with employees who are people like you with the same emotions. A Leadership that is accommodative, transparent and yet assertive is needed to achieve the homeostasis between employee satisfaction and change management in organization. Identifying such change agents i.e. leaders, employees etc. to deploy for such exercise also needs to be part of the overall analysis, mobilization and execution of change management strategies.

Whether your organization is merging with another, acquired or transforming itself, you need a solid fool proof blue print to execute the change. Data in your organization will be your saviour. Process it as per your business context to yield the information that you can use to gain valuable insights.