Change is occurring all around us everyday. Most changes are small and go unnoticed by us. Think about your daily ride to work and notice what changes are taking place over the course of a week: possible changes in traffic patterns, new stores opening, weather patterns, etc. Each day we adapt to the changing situations without even thinking about it, and we achieve our goals.
The organizations we work for are going through change to adapt to a very competitive marketplace. Most organizational change, much like your daily commute, is subtle. Some changes create a variety of emotions among employees: from joy and enthusiasm to distrust and anger.
The best organizations create a strong culture of change management. In fact, management at these organizations is constantly encouraging change for the good of the overall organization.
The following are seven change management secrets to creating a winning culture of change:
1. Understand the Present
Take the time to ask questions to understand where the culture of change presently stands. Examples of questions great managers of change are consistently asking to ensure the success of change are the following:
Do employees understand the difference they make at work everyday?
Are there strong relationships between employees and management?
Is there an environment of openness and trust?
Is there an understanding of mission, purpose, beliefs, and business goals?
Do we have an environment of learning, growth, and empowerment?
Take the time to ask these and other questions and, most importantly, listen to the answers.
2. Recognize That Change Management Culture Starts at the Top
As a leader, you set the tone for change management. If you express or show a negative attitude towards the change, the culture for change will have negative results. If your attitude towards change is positive, then the culture for change will have positive results. Constantly communicate the positive overall results from the change and how the employee will benefit from this change.
3. Establish Channels of Communication
Before the changes are to take place, implement ongoing channels of communication. This is important for the following reasons:
Hear and address the concerns and fears of the employees.
Obtain new innovative ways of implementing the change.
Gain employee buy-in for the changes.
Address the rumor mill before it spirals out of control.
Remember, there will probably be a lot of emotions mixed in with the communication. First, set the parameters for positive, productive communication and really take the time to listen. You will need to separate the emotions from the message and/or questions. Also, if you don’t have an immediate answer to the question, promise to find the answer and respond with the answer within a certain deadline.
4. Give Your Employees the Tools for Successful Change Management
Make sure your employees have the tools to successfully implement the organizational changes. This could include training, technology, and additional management help to remove barriers to successfully implementing the changes. Be mindful that with the changes there are new relationships being developed. As the change leader, monitor what work relationships are working and what relationships are not working; and take the appropriate actions to remove any relational barriers to your employees’ successful completion of the plan.
5. Build a Change Management Community
Build a sense that we are all in this together and that if one person on our team has a challenge adapting to change, we all have a challenge adapting to the change. Build this sense of a change team so that a positive environment for change and innovation is developed. It makes the road to change so much easier.
6. Understand That Employees Handle Change in Different Ways
Because of stress and emotions, your employees handle change in different ways. The model employee who was once calm may now become disruptive and challenging in the environment of change. Take time to tone into your employees’ “emotional change barometer,” get their feedback, and provide the guidance so that they are successful in the culture of change.
7. Follow-up to Create Better Change Results
As a change leader, follow-up through meetings, personal coachings, surveys, memos, e-mails, etc., to monitor how the changes are progressing. Embrace and acknowledge the employees’ valuable feedback so that you can efficiently implement the changes.
Apply these seven change management techniques and you will create a successful culture of change and achieve your organizational goals.
Ed Sykes is an author, professional speaker, and success coach in the areas of leadership, motivation, stress management, customer service, and team building. You can e-mail him at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at (757) 427-7032. Go to his web site, http://www.thesykesgrp.com, and signup for the newsletter, OnPoint, and receive the free ebook, “Empowerment and Stress Secrets for the Busy Professional.”