As a senior executive, what keeps you up at night? What do you worry about for the future of your business?
Is it how your workforce will react to whatever changes you have in store for your business in the future?
You’re not alone.
In fact, it’s the leadership teams that don’t plan for the human side of change that find themselves with the biggest problems.
While business management teams from even just a few years back could plan for change solely with strategic and tactical strategies in mind, that no longer works. While there isn’t a single methodology that works for every company, there are key practices and tools that work for today’s business cultures.
Add The Human Side Into Every Plan
Most managers start with the end in mind. They see a new product on the shelves. A new service promoted to key customers. And only then do they consider implementation from employees’ standpoint. Dealing with issues in reactive mode as problems arise puts both strategy and morale at risk. A better approach is to integrate fully all key players with the change from early on. If they’re in on the decision-making process, understand the development phases, not only can they make the change even better, they’re more on track for implementation, and can run faster and better to make the change more successful.
Create a Formal Plan
As much as the workforce likes to be kept in the know, they also are often the same people that like to argue against change. Which is why it’s management’s job to create a formal vision plan before any change is announced. Start by challenging current realities and making cases for the need to change. Demonstrate the company’s direction and why others should have faith the outcome can be achieved. Provide a starting roadmap to bring others on board. This message must continually be tweaked and voiced to each group of internal audience, based on how they will be integrated into the plan.
Leaders of change don’t just have to believe in their new direction; they have to be the fanatic that steers the boat, and keeps the entire process on track. They have to buy into the change from every direction. And from there they have to pass that ownership along. Ownership most often comes from rewarding people throughout the process. Provide incentives for coming up with new ideas. Entice them to challenge ideas and come up with new solutions. The more you reward the process, the easier implementation will be.
Reinforce The Message
Very few people become attached to an outcome as much as the original designer. Leaders understand the issues and create change based on desired results. Yet that message can get lost if not repeated over and over again. The best change programs have clear lines of communication with the entire team. The best change programs come with clear messages that are reiterated over and over again. This may require overcommunication throughout the process. But the rewards can be more than worth the process.