For many managers, the word ‘change’ can be very intimidating. Managing people or a business is a hard task in itself, which can be made more difficult when you have to deal with change.
Change can come in many forms – merger, acquisition or an alteration in leadership. But, what if I was to tell you that it doesn’t have to be a frightening process? In fact, it’s something that you can embrace and use it to your advantage to prosper.
Here are my five top tips for successfully managing change in today’s environment.
1. Educate to accomodate
Supported by the respected authors of Exploring Corporate Strategy, education is vital in the change management process. After all, you’d want your staff, employees and fellow colleagues to understand and cooperate with your ideas. It has been suggested that once it has been agreed on what the changes the managers would like to implement, they should take a bottom-up approach and inform those at the front line of their intentions. Granted, some may resist, but by updating them on the expected benefits this will result in, could win the staff over. If educated well, they may even join forces and work towards achieving your objectives. For more on finessing your managerial role, a dedicated course on management and leadership training can help.
2. Forcefield Analysis
Although a fairly new philosophy, Forcefield analysis has had some success in the field of management. According to this theory, it is important to first analyse the situation, note down the advantages as well as issues with your company and then roll out changes to combat the problems. For some this may seem like an obvious strategy, but if not conducted properly, it can harm the change process. If you’re trying to encourage your employees to be more committed to their jobs or even battle cultural resistance, the Forcefield Analysis can come in handy.
3. Pick your “agents of change” wisely
This is a more tactical way of ensuring your desired type of change is being implemented as the leader influences reliable staff (hereby known as ‘agents’) to facilitate the change and make sure it is being accepted and applied. However, it is important the agents are chosen carefully. They must hold a degree of power and be taken seriously. If the agents don’t fit this criteria, then the procedure is likely to fall flat. Additionally, an agent is required to be flexible and wear many hats, including as a counsellor, mediator and advocate.
It’s easy to alienate staff by dictating imminent changes, but ask yourself – is it an effective way to lead?
In a change management situation, it is much better to include your staff from all levels and allow them to participate. Listen to their views, and where appropriate, put their ideas into actions. By doing so, staff are likely to feel more valued and as a result, be less resistance to change. In fact, research by IPA (formerly the Involvement and Participation Association) indicates that since the recession, more employers are engaging with their employees.
5. Marry management styles with change
While there are various styles of change management, it is imperative to bear in mind that every change management situation is different and so will require a bespoke approach. For example, where your staff don’t understand the reason behind the change or the likely benefit it will bring, an educational approach can be helpful. Likewise, if you feel that your company is too big for you to drive the change on your own, why not opt for the agents of change approach?
For more tips and guidance, why not seek out professional guidance such as CMI’s short course on ‘Implementing Strategic Change’?