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Change is a must for most organisations, but making changes can go very wrong if it isn't managed correctly. Something that comes up time and time again in our change management training course is when organisations make changes, it can be hard to get buy-in, and even if they do, people often try and go back to the way things were done previously.
Change impacts on people in different ways. Even asking someone to do something as simple as moving desks in the office could be a massive change for them, but to us it seems like such a trivial thing to ask someone to do.
Change makes us feel uncomfortable. Just try this and see how it feels - fold your arms and think about how it feels, now fold them the other way. Feels strange doesn't it. The first thing you want to do is to put them pack the other way. This is how people feel in times of change, and if it isn't managed correctly people will revert back (fold their arms the way they feel comfortable).
Some of the mistakes businesses make when it comes to managing change are:
Not communicating enough - They don't provide enough information about why the change is happening or when it will happen. I've been in organisations where thy have told staff by email on a morning that massive change is happening - today!!!
Not making the vision clear enough - If people don't understand what the change will look like, they will find it hard to buy into it.
No reasons - Change happens for a reason, and not helping people to understand those reasons will make it difficult for them to grasp why the change is needed.
Lack of support - Sometimes we just expect people to change. If they don't feel supported they won't change.
Here are some things that you can do to ensure change goes smoothly and sticks.
1. Why is the Change Necessary? - First, think about the dissatisfaction that is driving the need for change. Ensure that you have the right plan in place to put things right. Once you have this, the think about how you will communicate this to the people affected by the impending change. By helping them to understand the dissatisfaction will help them to see why change is absolutely necessary. This should be done well in advance of the change happening.
2. Create a Vision - In order to help people buy into the change, you should help them to understand what the end result looks like. Help them to see what the change will look like and what it will feel like when the change happens. Think clearly about what the benefits will be to the people affected once the change is in place.
3. Communicate the Plan - Be clear about the plan that will move them from now to the change. Explain clearly the steps that will be taken and by when. During the change, communicate clearly the progress that the business is making toward the overall goal.
4. Provide Training and Support - If the change requires new skills or knowledge the provide training and support well before the change is in place. The last thing you want is for the day to come when the new way of doing things is implemented and for you to find that a percentage of the people don't have the skills to work in the new way.
5. Post Change Plan - Now that the change is in place, what will you do to maintain it? How will you keep people motivated and supported? How will you review how successful the change has been? Although it's the last point, this should be one of the things you should think of first.
By following the above simple steps you can help people buy into change rather than resist it.
Want to know more about change management and how to make change stick? We run a one day change management training course that covers all of the above points in much more detail.