Businesses thrive on change — but change doesn’t always immediately help a business thrive. In fact, change that is improperly managed will more often than not result in disruption to productivity and profits, which could ultimately cause a business to fail.
To keep your business afloat during and after a significant change, you need to implement change management. To understand what change management is, consider the following four principles:
Not all change is created equal. Because different changes to your business can develop in different ways, you need to understand what individual changes can do for your business before you can enact those changes with any success.
The first principle of change management is understanding the change you are hoping to implement, to involve understanding the change’s benefits and detriments. Some questions you might ask yourself to better understand the change include:
- Why do you need to change in this way?
- What are your objectives with this change?
- How will this change impact people positively?
- How will this change impact people negatively?
- Will this change affect how people work?
- What do you and others need to do to successfully achieve the change?
Additionally, you might consider the impacts of not enacting the change. A change management certification could equip you with the right mindset and tools for identifying important questions and answering them appropriately to better understand change.
Ultimately, you need to be confident that the change you want to enact is advantageous, and you need to be able to communicate the advantages of the change to others so they will adopt it more readily.
The worst type of change is the sudden, accidental, unplanned type of change. Your business is less likely to survive a change that it isn’t prepared for, so this second principle of change management is all about creating a strategy that allows your organization to navigate the change easily and productively.
Different organizations develop plans for change in different ways. Your business might thrive with a rigid change methodology, or it might find greater success with openness and flexibility.
You can talk to the people in your organization affected by the change to better understand the type of plan that will work for you, and you can consider the following questions:
- Who in your organization is positioned to help you design and implement the change?
- Do you need external expertise, or are internal resources sufficient for planning the change?
- How will you recruit and utilize support, especially high-level support, for the change?
- Can you predict and assess the impact of the change?
As much as you plan, change only happens when you implement said plans. Ultimately, if you properly understand the change and develop your plan deliberately with input from those affected, you shouldn’t encounter many challenges when it comes to implementation.
Still, obstacles can appear out of nowhere, so you need to remain on guard in case something threatens the success of your change.
Some ways to ensure that implementation goes smoothly include:
- Identifying key stakeholders and defining their involvement.
- Educating and motivating everyone involved in the change.
- Appointing “change agents” to help facilitate the change, perhaps by modeling the change for others.
- Measuring and reporting on the success criteria for the change.
- Supporting everyone through the change, psychologically and physically.
After you have put such effort into understanding and planning for the change, you certainly don’t want anyone within your organization to be resistant to the change. Thus, your main job during implementation is to keep everyone on track and excited about the change to ensure its success.
Communication is so essential for the success of every business endeavor, and it is of particular importance in change management. Communication can make or break a change; if you don’t communicate with the right people in the right way at the right time, the change you are hoping for might never occur. You need to take care to tailor your communications appropriately, in both language and tone, to achieve your goals.
There are so many obstacles to effecting change. By practicing change management, you can bring about positive changes for your business with minimal hassle and maximum benefit.