Open and honest communication between management and staff is of course, crucial when communicating change. However, when implementing this change management, there are some very different challenges involved for the leader than for the rest of the team. And it is only by recognising these challenges that the leader can best prepare themselves for managing those changes. With this in mind, there follow five key change management guidelines for managers to consider:
1. Encourage open communication
One of the most important aspects of dealing with change management is communicating the change (and its many features) to key stakeholders within the organisation. As leader, it means taking responsibility for ensuring both your staff and outside stakeholders are fully aware of what is happening. The easiest way of doing this is to keep it simple, and make it perfectly clear to staff and stakeholders exactly what will change in their day-to-day involvement with the organisation. Having open and reliable communication channels with plenty of opportunity to give feedback will help the change proceed much more smoothly.
2. Manage any conflicts
When a conflict or issue does arise, which threatens to upset your schedule, you need to step in quickly. And whether the conflict involves a person or some part of the process - you should always ensure you are ready and available to find answers. Patience is also necessary as if the conflict does identify some fault in the process or planning, it is vital you correct it.
3. Expect some resistance
With change management very often - the greater change, the greater the resistance. Some resistance is of course, expected and should be handled with patience, conversation and feedback. Indeed, when you are leader - it is part of your job to identify and manage this resistance. Also, by providing clear and constructive guidance on any concerns, you will not only help alleviate fears, but also provide certainty and confidence.
4. Be committed
Commitment at executive level is crucial in producing loyalty from those at the coalface. If employees do not perceive the organisation’s leadership as fully behind a project they are unlikely to change. There is no limit to the amount of top-level support you can give. Indeed, when displaying support or talking up a change initiative, a good rule of thumb is to demonstrate this commitment at least three times more often than you feel you may need to.
5. Make extra effort
Change management does take extra time and effort to implement, and sometimes those driving the change forget their employees are already very busy with their own day-to-day responsibilities. Obviously, when the extra burden of change is placed on the shoulders of line managers and staff, there is bound to be some criticism.
In an ideal world, project teams should ensure that an employee’s workload increases by no more than 10 per cent. Beyond that and resources can be stretched - and the change program compromised. One effective way to relieve the pressure is to bring in temporary workers - or to outsource current processes until the changeover is complete.
When dealing with change management, always remember it is vital to keep your staff onside, and to deal with issues quickly and fairly. Not to do this invites disaster - and possible failure of the change management process. Also, keep in mind that delivering the promises of the ‘post-change’ organisation can be difficult. The success of organisational change depends on this delivery – when the initial excitement of the new change management plan gives way to a new ‘business as usual’ state - and the promises are delivered.
By following the above pointers - leaders can avoid many of the most common mistakes made in change management. And always remember that, as the old saying goes: ‘To be forewarned is to be forearmed!’