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Change Management Key Principles

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that change can affect all types of organizations out there. Change is inevitable and the same can either take place due to industry change or internally. Change is not only necessary for the company’s survival but also it’s necessary to remain competitive over time. It has been reported that organizations that tend to follow strong Change Management practices are far more likely (almost close to 3.5 times) to outperform their competitors. Moreover, enterprises that practice change will easily be able to overcome their barriers and will continue to grow over an extended period, as they introduce new tools and transform the existing procedures.

The key aspect to any type of successful Change Management initiative would be to have leaders in the organization who are highly efficient and have the mindset to embrace change for the better. Since organizational change is not at all predictable, it can take place at any time. Thus, all organizational leaders must be flexible and should have the vision to recognize change especially when it’s necessary. Moreover, these leaders should also be able to undertake actions that can directly help the whole company support change continuously.

What do you mean by Change Management principles?

Change Management principles are those principles or practices that help in guiding business leaders to effectively follow & manage changes, transitions as well as disruptions inside an organization.

You must know that changes can either be internal or external. Internal changes include transporting to a new system or software while external changes include industry threats, trends, or new opportunities. By managing these changes or transitions efficiently through the prescribed principles of Change Management, organizations can achieve faster & successful adoption of changes.

Why are Change Management principles essential?

Although change is inevitable, almost close to 70 percent of all initiatives for Change Management fail miserably. Such is the reason why Change Management must be strategic, intentional, and a well-integrated effort.

Companies that have an environment that helps in supporting change can experience successful & seamless transitions, with less downtime for the adjustments. Besides, employees will also be far more secure & happier in the end.

What are the elements that can prevent change?

Even the perfectly laid out plans can be subjected to pessimism and scrutiny from people in your organization. Thus, you have to understand, acknowledge and address any resistance to change.

There will also be moments when you’ll come up against the cultural barriers in an organization, which is why you need to be flexible enough to adapt to the circumstances and continue with the process till it reaches the ultimatum.

Key principles of Change Management

  1. Learning about the problem

Before you decide to implement any changes, you need to identify the issues. Taiichi Ohno, who was one of the pioneers of the Toyota Production System, created a technique to locate the problems. In this technique, he would take a process and ask five questions regarding the same. The first question would be to know the reasons why the process didn’t provide the expected results, which in turn will lead to the other four questions. As a result, the conversation would ultimately point towards fixing the issue.

Such a procedure can be easily implemented on a wide-scale basis with the help of surveys and feedback systems so that problems can be identified & issues.

2. The organizational culture must be taken into account

Changes must be correlated with the company’s existing organizational culture. The culture of the organization is the way how the employees of the company behave, interact with each other and work together in close harmony. Therefore, changes must be brought within the purview of such organizational culture, so that any resistance can be dealt with quickly.

3. Begin from the top

For any changes to be fully successful, all the company executives at the top-management level should be united towards the same objective. Any queries or doubts of the management must be answered and sorted out so that everyone can be on the same page.

4. Full organizational involvement

When you’re planning to roll out changes in your company, it needs to start from the top to the lower-level workers. Each employee level must be involved in the transition process. And when there will be teamwork, it’s expected that the Change Management process will be seamless.

For instance, the lower-level workers will be able to provide any technical or logistical concerns that the top-level executives won’t know about. Similarly, the mid-level employees can solve the issues which are affecting the lower-level employees, so that a smooth flow of processes can be observed.

5. Proper instructions

Organizational leaders should provide clear instructions to the employees about the changes that are being implemented in the company. Logical reasonings should be provided for the same, in a simple & easy-to-understand manner, so that the employees can easily implement the changes. Such a process might include training sessions, meetings, and so on.

6. Clear communication

One of the most crucial aspects of bringing change is communication. To ensure that the Change Management process works successfully, company leaders must maintain a proper level of transparent communication with all the internal stakeholders. Each decision must be taken by informing the concerned employees. Otherwise, there can be causes of negative feelings and panic within the mindset of the employees. Nothing should be hidden when implementing organizational transitions.

7. Effective training

Training should always go hand-in-hand with communication. It should be realized that preparing the employees for changes will take patience & time. Thus, a comprehensive training program must be implemented by the organizational leaders, so that all employees can participate. The training process helps the employees to learn about new techniques & principles, while also acting as the Q&A source for answering any lingering questions.

8. Addressing any concerns or questions

When a change is taking place in an enterprise, concerns and questions are bound to arise. Therefore, business leaders and managers must address all the questions & concerns regarding their employees. The process can be carried out either via open-door techniques or online. When employees will get their doubts cleared or questions answered, then you can expect to enjoy a smoother transition process.

9. Obtaining accountability

Organizational leaders who are in charge of the Change Management process must ensure that employees of each level should be held accountable for the steps that they take. That’s why company leaders should set definite rules & expectations regarding the entire transition process to all the internal stakeholders. When internal stakeholders are held accountable for their actions, it will give them a sense of ownership. As a result, they will be more invested in the changes that are taking place.

10. Get ready for the unexpected

You must remember that no Change Management process will go purely according to the plan scripted for the same. That’s why, organizational leaders should always be proactive in every step of the transformation process, so those correct decisions can be undertaken and problems can be resolved. Such a step will ensure that the transition procedure maintains the proper momentum till results are achieved.

11. Enough appreciation

Since change can be difficult and overwhelming for some employees, company leaders should always acknowledge the steps that they take towards the objective, positively. A simple ‘thank you can go a long way in making the employees know that their efforts are not going unnoticed. Such appreciation can act as a pure motivator for the employees as well.

12. Assessment, evaluation & continuous improvement

Since change is a continuous process, proper evaluation and assessment of the situation must be undertaken. It should be a part of the regular procedures & policies. Ultimately, such evaluation will help in solving any potential barriers and thereby move towards continuous improvement via tweaks and minor changes. A proper assessment will ensure that the company won’t have to deal with failures later on.

13. Use of technology

As we are already living in a digital world, therefore it’s crucial to take advantage of the technology that you have at your disposal. Technology can be utilized in a lot of different ways and such usage will surely help in enhancing the efficiency rate of the Change Management process.

Conclusion

Even though change is constant, that doesn’t make the process effortless to deal with, especially from an emotional standpoint. It should be well-known that human beings have always been resistant to change and as we tend to face much more disruption in our everyday lives, due to the ongoing after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes become further challenging to swallow.

The best way to deal with the situation would be to exercise empathy throughout the entire organization. There can be moments when employees are reacting to changes in a different fashion than they would normally because they’re experiencing a mental saturation in the number of changes they’re being subjected to. Times like these are when the organizational leaders should perform their responsibility of acknowledging & listening to their struggles so that their stress can be minimized. This is because, at the end of the heyday, if the employees aren’t satisfied with the change then there’s no point in implementing change.