If there is one constant in the business world and in life, it is the concept of change. The businesses that anticipate and plan for change are almost always the ones that succeed. Avoiding change, or refusing to accept that change needs to happen, are recipes for disaster. Organizational change can be a positive or negative event, though many changes incorporate both aspects.
What is Change Management?
Change management is the process of helping individuals and your organization transition from the current state to the desired state, according to The Balance. Mergers, the introduction of new technologies, downsizing, reorganizing divisions, or expansion are all examples of changes your business may be faced with. Though you can never be prepared for everything that may be down the road, you can at least develop a good change management plan to fall back on. Whether change happens to you, or you instigate change in your business, here are some tips to prepare your workforce.
Tips on Preparing Your Workforce for Change
Having the right attitude about change is key to smooth transitions. However, if you don’t have the proper mindset or the right plan in place, the right attitude can be tough to achieve. Here are some proven ways to prepare yourself and your team for change.
Start at the Top
If you and other leaders of your organization aren’t prepared for change, you can’t expect the rest of your workforce to be. The key elements that need to be present in your top leadership are clarity, purpose and focus when it comes to facing change.
Why is the change happening? Is it intentional or something that is happening against your will? What will this change look like from an operational and financial perspective? What are the benefits? How can you make it ultimately serve your mission as a company? These are all questions that need to be answered and agreed upon by senior management. If you are all on the same page, your entire team will be able to see it. They will then be more likely to welcome the change and get on board with what it will mean for the future.
Take Into Account Both Hard and Soft Factors
There are both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors that go into any change. Soft factors include culture and motivation and are often at the top of the list as you and your management team implement change. These are important parts of any change, and are necessary if you want to retain morale during a transition.
Change cannot be accomplished based on soft factors alone, though. Hard factors, such as time necessary to complete a change, financial results, and the number of people needed to make the change happen, also need to be taken into consideration. It’s nice to think that if your workforce is engaged and motivated to make a change, it will come off without a hitch. However, without doing some concrete planning on what it will really look like and what you need to do to accomplish it, your plan will ultimately fail.
Develop a Strategic Workforce Plan
The importance of strategic workforce planning cannot be emphasized enough. A well-developed plan will ensure that you have enough staff available to make changes happen. It will also assist in forecasting future changes you might be able to expect and how to arrange your workforce to account for them. When you can see where your team currently is and where it would need to be should change happen, you can be as fully prepared as possible.
Focus On Employee Engagement
It’s important to help create employee engagement across all levels in the organization. When change occurs, you may find your team shifts. Newer employees are now in charge of those older than them, or senior executives find themselves in more hands-on roles that they are unfamiliar with. This can lead to frustration, fear, and ultimate disengagement.
It’s important to know what stage of the life cycle each employee is at, and how this might affect how he or she reacts to the change. Don’t ignore the fact that demotion or changes in role status could lead to employee dissatisfaction or confusion. Find ways to coach employees through the change that will help them see it in a positive light. The more team members who are on board and have a positive attitude about the change, the more likely it will be to succeed.
Changes will always happen to your business no matter how big or small you are. Some of them, such as expansion or new processes, are quite positive. Others can have negative consequences that instill fear and resentment in employees. Finding a way to deal with all types of change will be greatly affected by the change management strategy you have in place before it happens. The above tips will help you and your leadership team create an effective plan and navigate the waters of change in the best possible way.