If there is one certainty in business, it’s that change will happen.
Perhaps you have a new strategy and vision to grow your business which requires some major changes to your organisation, or maybe you are implementing a smaller programme of change such as a new computer system which will change how you work.
Change can be very disruptive to a business unless managed properly. Not only are people being asked to implement change, but trying to keep on top of business as usual at the same time and it can be quite overwhelming. Many change programmes fail due to poor delivery of change through lack of planning and involving the right people.
Here are my high level top tips on managing change:
1. Involve your staff in the process
This is the key to everything else that happens. If you don’t have your staff on board with the change, you have a lesser chance of success. Even if they say they are happy with the new world, there will be the secret saboteur(s) who will do what they can to thwart progress.
Whatever the change is – get them involved at an early stage with the proposals and ask for their feedback, ideas and constructive criticism.
Incorporate their feedback and ideas into the change, where feasible and appropriate. And explain to them why certain ideas haven’t been included.
2. Limit the number of changes made
Aim to change only two to three things at any one time.
Research shows that if you try to implement two to three changes, you are likely to do so, whereas if you try to implement four-10 changes, you are likely to only achieve one! Any more than 11 changes will result in a very small likelihood of anything changing!
3. Track the changes
What gets measured gets done. Identify what the important measures are that will show your progress against target.
Not only do you need to identify the those that measures that will tell you that you have achieved the goal (called the lag measures), you also need to identify those measures or activities which will help you achieve the goal (called the lead measures).
An example would be weight loss:
Losing two stone would be your lag measure. Reducing calorie input and exercising are your lead measures as they are the activities that will result in the weight loss.
The lead measures are much easier to monitor as they have the impact on achieving the end goal.
Then have a clear way (scorecard) of showing the measures and achievements against them so that everyone can see what progress is being made. Showing the (hopefully good) progress openly and in an easy to absorb manner can be very motivating resulting in faster results.
4. Get everyone involved (again)
Hold regular weekly review meetings at which those people who have goals they need to reach can give feedback on where they are. They should cover off:
- What they did last week (against the goals they committed to achieve at the last review meeting)
- How the lead measures have affected the lag measure and whether things are progressing in the right direction
- What they will be doing this week in the light of where they are against the measures and scorecard
5. Celebrate the success
This bit often gets missed out in the rush to implement the next set of changes. Whether it’s emails to individuals who have performed well, to a party at the end of a big change project, it’s really important to celebrate successful change. It’s a boost to morale and encourages your staff to embrace the next round of change.
By Karen Espley
Karen Espley is a Business Doctor, working with small to medium sized companies to help them achieve their visions and growth plans.
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