The pace of change is becoming so fast to an extent that if we do not keep on evolving and changing with times we would disintegrate. To survive, organizations have to embrace a successful change management process and make it part of their culture.
Managing the change process can make the shift easier. It involves detecting and recognizing the change need, making sure the organization is fit and ready for it, making the right adjustments, training the employees so that they are familiar with the transition and its effects on the company, and making sure they accept and support this change.
Leaders today recognize the importance of change, yet only a few are equipped to manage it. Leaders are now doing more effort to learn how to master the master change leadership in requirements resulting from both: downstream with management strategic decisions or upstream with field challenges.
To manage the change process, Leaders have to:
1-Develop skills to assess the readiness of their teams and individuals to handle change
- The assessment should involve all your stakeholders, everyone that might be impacted by the change process. Once that is clear, creating a blue print of the change project becomes more feasible. One of the most important streams within the blue print is to create a model that allows upstream change from the field. This entails being prepared to appreciate bottom-up feedback and consider it insightful input.
- Part of assessing the readiness for change entails knowing what tools are required ahead and what possible resistance that might be faced. Understanding your current work environment and prevailing culture is important as it influences the way stakeholders would react especially at the beginning.
2- Develop a step by step process to lead successful change
- You need to have an organized and systematic approach in managing the change process. It should not be left to improvising along the way. You need to have a clear outline for the main pillars of the change road map step by step.
- What would help is to research case studies as to why change efforts have failed in the same industry. Surely, the working culture differs between one company and another, however common mistakes in change management can clarify the road ahead or at least shed a light on areas that have not been considered yet.
3- Develop a unique way to communicate the change message and gain commitment
o Communication is key. In fact, Strategic communication is needed to be precise. Building the case for change and making it clear at the Top level is not enough. It has to be properly communicated and cascaded across the whole organization and to all associates. Strategic communication entails that leaders develop open and clear consistent communication channels with an objective to generate commitment and buy-in rather than just mere implementation. Developing such a way ensures two-way communication and a process to migrate perception to where it should be, align all involved on common objectives while allowing management to adjust the approach while moving, based on clear feedback.
4- Develop the means to handle resistance and remove obstacles
- There is no change without resistance. It is only normal. It is part of human nature to resist the unknown, to resist moving out of the comfort zone. Leaders have to understand that this is all part of the natural path and devise a way to embrace it, build on it and plan ahead how to handle it. There are many ways that leaders can handle resistance. The most important of which is to create short-term milestones that enable celebrating quick wins to re-enforce change or take fast corrective measures, in addition to the steps we have mentioned above. As people see results, no mater how small, their fear of the unknown would reduce and thus more would enlist to support.
- Another main point to rely on during the change process is positive communication. Always set a positive tone in any communication, written or verbal. Always communicate with assertiveness and having success as the main pillar of each message.
The bottom line is that leaders can have more control over the change process than what is usually perceived. However, leaders must develop a positive & systematic way to tackle change while having a clear understanding of what they are up against and being prepared to appreciate upstream changes that might come up on the way and being open about handling resistance.