Tips on how to navigate change management

Change in a business can be a confusing, difficult, uncomfortable, and tricky thing to do. It can feel as though you are struggling to make everything work, make everyone comfortable, and accomplish the change that will make your company better in the end. 

Change management often handles the people side of the change, tending to the needs of employees, making sure they are adjusting, comfortable, becoming acclimated to the new protocols, technology, or any other changes may be occurring within the business. This side of change is the most critical, as well as the most challenging component of change in any business. Knowing how to navigate it a bit better can make changes within an organization flow as smoothly as possible. This guide for change management can help leaders and employees better understand the importance of success when it comes to change management, and how to accomplish change successfully.

Explain to employees why the change is necessary

It is important to let your employees know not only that a change is going to be made within your company, but also why that change is necessary. Employees will respect you for informing them about changes rather than just telling them what’s going to happen, they will be grateful you kept them in the loop. By informing your employees, you will likely have a much more cooperative team, open to change and willing to adjust to new protocols, technologies, or whatever the change may be. Be clear, authentic, and transparent about what is about to happen within the business. Change will be infinitely easier to navigate if your employees are on board and on the same page as you! 

Change in an organization happens one person at a time

In order to successfully navigate change, you must look at the change from an individual perspective. It is not the entire organization making one large change, but rather every employee making smaller changes to how they do their day to day tasks, that results in real, lasting change.

Poorly managing change can be costly

There are so many costs that can take a toll on your business if you fail to manage change correctly, especially if you fail to focus on the needs of your employees during change.These consequences include the decline of productivity on a large scale for a long duration, customers are able to feel the negative impacts of change that should have been invisible to them, employee morale will plummet, leading to divisions and an “us versus them” mentality, there will be an increase in fatigue, stress, and confusion, and, in extreme cases, valued employees will begin to leave the organization. 

All of the above “costs” of poorly managing change on an individual level were not even monetary costs. They were qualitative costs, which will bear economic impact on a business much longer than the initial quantitative costs of a change, if not managed properly. Be aware of the needs of individuals to manage change!

Consider using tools to manage organizational change

There are a number of tools you can use to manage organizational change, including a communication plan, coaching plan, sponsor roadmap, training plan, and resistance management plan, to name a few. 

To make sure these tools can be properly used by your employees, make sure you also reinforce awareness of the need for change among staff, cultivate a motivation for employees to support and participate in the change, and provide them with the knowledge on how to change. In addition to this, make sure your employees have the ability to implement any newly required skills and behaviors for the impending change, and provide them with lots of support and reinforcement to sustain the change throughout the change process, but especially after successfully transitioning through the change.

Embrace different learning styles, be patient

This point goes along with the idea that change in an organization will happen one person at a time. People will adjust to change differently. They will learn to adjust their working styles and day to day work differently. It will take individuals different amounts of time to learn new protocols and technology or software, they will implement changes in different areas of their work, and change will affect different roles differently.

Reassure your employees that mistakes are bound to happen while navigating change, and that mistakes should be embraced as part of the learning process. Provide them with a safety net and give them the peace of mind that they will not be penalized for mistakes during the change transition. Being patient with different learning styles and different paces of learning to see the best results from your change management.

Listen to your employees

This point goes hand in hand with the principle of being aware of the needs of individuals within your organization while managing change. Ask your employees questions to make sure they understand everything that is going on. Allow them to ask you questions about the change as well. Offer guidance where you can, allow them to discuss their concerns, ideas, confusion, and offer you advice. Employees can often be your most important and most valuable resource when it comes to navigating change successfully. A tactic that works well in business settings is a roundtable where anything and everything related to the changes can be discussed. 

It’s no secret that managing change well increases success in a business and promotes further growth potential for the organization in the long run. However, if managed incorrectly, change can have devastating consequences for a company. By understanding the needs of individuals throughout an organizational change, you can set your business up for the most successful transition and provide a foundation upon which future changes can be made. Change management may not be easy, but with a bit of dedication, attention to individuals, and lots of patience, change management can be accomplished successfully. 

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