Back when senior executives of large corporations only had to focus on earnings growth and people stayed in their jobs, it could be argued that business leadership was simpler. Today, factors like evolving technology and labor mobility have created an environment that keeps companies on their feet and changing.
In this environment, it has become increasingly important for organizations to be able to incorporate new practices that will enhance their business activity. Having a clear vision that defines the new paths chosen by each organization will maximize the expectations of its clients, employees and shareholders.
In other words, every organization constantly reviews, redefines and reinvents ways to make business more profitable. Before an organization can implement change, however, it is imperative that business leaders have a clear vision of what is required to streamline the process effectively and without too much disruption.
Success lies in finding the best way to make changes that ensures integration of the goals outlined by the company. Each change presents different challenges, and so leaders must understand the right approach for each one.
Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson says that when it comes to implementing organizational change everyone on the team should be involved.
“Instead of using a command-and-control structure whereby the executives have the solution and tell everyone to implement it, our job as executives is to share the problems with our teams and set our teams about solving them. Don’t pigeonhole people. That’s the way to engage talent,” he says.
Toronto’s Robert Morton, former CFO of Home Capital Group Inc. and Home Trust concurs: it takes a solid communication plan to manage change.
“Providing clear and open lines of communication throughout the process is critical,” says Morton. “Leaders in charge of managing change must remain transparent and structure a two-way communication method that allows all involved the avenue to vent frustrations, applaud successes and change what isn’t working.”
Once change management leaders have established a clear line of communication, the next step is to monitor and manage resistance.
Robert Morton suggests leaders remain realistic about what they can predict and what is beyond managerial control.
“With change there will always be some form of resistance; it is a normal part of the process,” says Morton. “It’s about making sure resistance doesn’t threaten the success of the project.”
Oftentimes, resistance is caused by fear of the unknown. Risk also plays a large part in implementing organizational change due to factors such as money implications and return on investments. Change leaders can prepare for resistance by identifying its root causes and addressing those problems.
During the end stages of the change management process, the leader will be required to collect feedback to understand employee adoption and compliance with the new workflow. Evaluating this feedback allows leaders to manage any remaining resistance. This final stage also includes proactively mobilizing support and addressing objections when needed.
It’s also important to recognize and celebrate achievements and successes along the way. This will help the team remain positive about the process as well as remain optimistic about the change itself. As much as change can be difficult, it is often a necessary process for industries to grow and evolve. The key to effective change management is first being openly supportive of and advocating for a particular change, and then adopting the change accordingly with an open and patient mind and a strategic plan.