Effective change management: It's about people


Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | By AWD University

Effective change management: It's about people

Change Management is a structured approach to shifting individuals, teams and organizations from a current state to a desired future state aimed at helping employees accept and embrace changes in their current environment.

Many business leaders know about change from a strategic viewpoint: beat the competition, keep up with customer expectations, cut costs or reduce overhead.  One of the biggest factors with change, however, is understanding who will be affected most.  

Yes, it’s about the people.

The individuals carrying out the daily work are usually the ones keeping the doors open and the lights on. Unfortunately, the cultural side of any change management project is typically the most overlooked, but often the linchpin of the successful outcome. In fact, a lack of change management is frequently cited as the primary reason behind most business transformation failures.

If your people aren’t aligned with the business when it comes to the specific changes required, they won’t adapt accordingly. Then, it becomes likely your initiative will fail. Organizations must get their workers to understand why the change is taking place and how it will help them be more successful at their jobs.

“The first step toward change is awareness.  The second step is acceptance.”

~ Nathaniel Branden

Today’s digital leaders must consider how changes will be communicated to the masses so as not to catch them off-guard. The moment workers are surprised by sudden, and perhaps unwelcome, changes to their daily routines, the project will likely be met with strong resistance. To avoid this, planning with purpose is critical.

Four things to consider for effective change:

  1. Provide a clear vision. More than likely, your organization isn’t changing just for the sake of change. Make sure employees are aware of the reasons for the change from a business perspective and how their acceptance and participation will not only help the organization, but them as well.
  2. Identify leaders and champions. Get managers and high-performing associates on board early to support the initiative and pump up its positives.
  3. Allocate resources. Adopt a plan that allows plenty of time for employee training.
  4. Communicate. It’s critical you share information early and often—the more communication, the better.

Organizations should take note that while change seems rational—“Don’t do this anymore, do this instead”—it is largely an emotional issue for employees when convincing them the new way is better. 

While changes to technology or processes might be more streamlined or produce better results, it must be expected that workers will react in various ways when they hear about them. Addressing those concerns up front will go a long way in not only bringing resisters along to the end, but turning them into advocates as well.

Making employees part of the overall project gives them skin in the game, which can instill confidence that they have a say in the project and their words matter. Transformation leaders must always strive to bring their people with them through the change, not drag them behind, kicking and screaming. When everyone matters, everyone wins, and change can be a success.

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