April 15, 2019
As Heraclitus rightly indicated – “Change is the only constant”. In business terms, change management refers to a structured, well-thought approach of undertaking initiatives to improve performance, mitigate business risks, enable growth & improve organizational efficiency. To achieve desired goals, change management provides a platform for bringing adjustments related to people, processes, organizational structure & roles/responsibilities. Success of such a change enormously depends on how quickly things transition over to the new set-up & how agile, responsive the organizational functions are to the required changes. Having a long-term vision is preferred to support the changes being introduced, within dynamic ecosystem of an organization – Moreover, use of suitable tools; technology also helps to expedite the change process for enterprises.
Need for Change Management
In the current business environment, enterprises have to deal with competition by enhancing their adaptive capabilities while improving readiness for a change & to achieve this, organizations must focus on synergy between business expansion, implementing successful operational processes & leveraging technological changes. Moreover, to adapt seamlessly to cross cultural best practices, supporting enterprise initiatives like mergers, diversification and other collaborative ventures, there is a need for a well-defined change management framework to realize benefits of strategic objectives set out by the executive teams.
Change capabilities are also pivotal in understanding changing customer needs & meeting those expectations effectively, as requirements can be clearly outlined as a part of change assessment process. It is imperative for organizations to engage, motivate their talent pool towards realization of a common objective and deliver excellence to customers through collaborative efforts and active participation. Successful change management helps to:
- Thrive in constantly changing business environment
- Bridges the gap between Requirements and Results
- Mitigates mission critical Risks
- Gives the ability to Control organizational changes
- Engages employees and brings ‘Value’ to their contribution
Change Management Essentials
Change Management directly aims at realizing the strategic goals and improving an organization’s preparedness for meeting both internal as well as external challenges, which may influence business growth and overall profitability. Effective Change Management involves a comprehensive and a collaborative effort from all the levels of the organization while taking into consideration the following factors:
Effective Planning: This stage involves change definition and finalizing documentation of objectives to achieve from change management along with strategies for realizing those objectives. It aims to address vital questions related to who, when, what and how of change management approach & takes into account the current situation to assess potential impact of proposed changes. Planning of change should take into account:
- Clearly outline organizational objectives
- Align said objectives to short term & long term vision
- Create an implementation roadmap with relevant milestones
- Document the rationale for the change with implementation timeline
- Include list of resources involved with responsibilities
Create Framework: Success of an organizational change largely depends on the governance structure in place. This framework requires change management teams to establish Roles and Responsibilities clearly, with periodic assessment for seamless transition to the new state. There can be various catalysts to govern change:
- Change Management Agent: Responsible for coordinating the day to day activities and provide support and guidance for ensuring the success of a change initiative
- Governing Committee: Responsible for ensuring the overall success of change management initiative. Members of this committee are responsible for planning and implementing strategies, providing direction and leadership for change management
- Working Groups: Involves the task forces directly responsible for the realization of specific objectives of change management. This task force or specialized groups work upon specific projects and are directly accountable for completion of the assigned responsibilities within the predefined timelines and resources
Leadership Commitment: Leadership buy-in is paramount to create favorable organizational environment for the realization of the objectives of change management. Transformational, visionary leaders can foster a situation of collaboration across all the levels of the organization.
Stakeholders Involvement: Stakeholder’s participation in the entire process is critical for the success of change management. Enterprises should engage relevant stakeholders by facilitating an environment of collaboration and communicate objectives as well as its outcomes clearly & timely
Change Resistance & How to overcome it
Why the Resistance…?
It is widely expected and noticed across organizations that even best of practices that bring about changes to ease ways of working, face some degree of resistance from stakeholders – be it internal or external. Since a change requires modifications to existing ways of working, separation from ‘comfort zone’ often results in skepticism, which in turn develops resistance to a recommended change. Some common reasons for resistance could be:
- Lack of adaptability towards change
- Concern around negative impact to personal finances
- Unease due to uncertainty of future state
- Resistance due to potential change in Roles and Responsibilities
- Peer influence
Managing such resistance requires strong commitment from executive teams, focused and integrated approach with strong leadership to address concerns from relevant stakeholders.
A few techniques to help manage resistance includes:
- Fluent and effective Communication: This is one of the most common ways to minimize change resistance by raising awareness among relevant stakeholder groups through effective, consistent change communication.
It includes elaborating on ‘NEED’ for the change, outlining key objectives & creating support mechanism to deal with hurdles along the way
- Encouraging Participation: This method involves creating a collaborative environment where employees have the ability to suggest modifications & provide consultation towards the change.
- Provide Training and Support: Since changes bring about new ways of working, one of the most effective ways to boost morale includes setting up a separate group to educate, mentor employees about navigating through the change. In addition, addressing any emotional, financial fears and providing assurances could also improve the success probability of a change
- Negotiation & Settlement: This is a passive way of getting people onboard with a change, to be of use when other techniques do not yield desired results. It includes offering something valuable as a part of mutual agreement, in return for employees’ commitment towards the change.
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