THE THREE ELEMENTS YOU NEED FOR SUCCESSFUL CHANGE
Making change in any organisation is a big move.
Whether the changes are pushed by external factors or an internal desire to reorganise, change can be a daunting prospect not only for its leaders but for employees too.
How can you ensure the change will be successful?
And, how can you make sure it will create long-term sustainable changes for your business?
If you are making changes within your organisation, there will be a good reason, and you need those changes to be successful and sustainable.
Part of ensuring the success of your change is knowing exactly what you need to make it effective. Planning and engagement are the keys to ensuring a smooth transition and better long-term outcomes.
But, that’s not all that you need.
There are three elements that every organisation needs for successful change.
Read on to find out exactly what those three key elements are.
1: Vision and Plan - the foundation of your change strategy
Good change is based on a really clear view of what you’re aiming to achieve. You need to start off with an end point defined, bought into by everyone, and clearly outlined.
If you have that vision and end point, you can create a plan which describes what you need to do to get there – start right-to-left rather than left-to-right – define the outcomes, how you’ll know you’re on the path to achieve them, and only then what you need to do to get there.
The biggest failures we see is when people start off on change without clearly defining and agreeing what success will look and feel like. Without that, your change process is likely to be muddled, greatly reducing the chance of successfully implementing your changes. Having a clear vision and plan also gives you measurable points against which to assess the success of your changes.
Your plan should also include a section on why the changes are being implemented - the rationalisation behind the change. Focus on the positive outcomes it will have for staff. Make sure the change aligns with your organisation’s overall goals and vision and can be achieved without too many compromises, or if there is conflict there and a change in organisational goals required, recognise that needs significant senior buy-in top-down.
Communicating the “why” clearly is key to getting buy-in from staff for your proposals. You may wish to include supporting data such as revenue projections or other metrics that will be used to measure the change success.
2: Structure - the building blocks of your change
To deliver the change, you will need structures and processes in place that will support the change being implemented. These need to be set up right at the beginning but also need to be sustainable and adaptable to maintain the changes in the long term.
Support structures may include:
- Practical parts of the change structure include having the right meetings set up, clear ownership, recognised reporting, and a good definition of who is in charge of different components of the change.
- Technical support in a shared working area (physically together, and online), the ability to share files and work on documents together, common templates and reports. Technical support also extends to taking a business process modelling approach to understanding how work is carried out now, and therefore what the future state will look like.
- Emotional and cultural support to define how the change you are designing will integrate with existing practices and ways of working. This includes empowering your team with the opportunity for input, feedback, and surveying.
Just like your overall plan, these detailed structures and processes need to be clear and well communicated so that everyone understands their role in making the change happen.
And then the content of your plan itself needs to combine practical, technical and cultural aspects – any change that is going to be delivered should contain a combination of each of these.
3: People - the pillars supporting your long-term success
Without proper buy-in from your staff, your change is probably destined to fail. Or at the very least, not be quite as successful as you had hoped. As we already mentioned, clear communication is vital for any successful change. Conveying why the changes are happening (and the benefits they will bring) can increase the buy-in from your team.
People have to believe that the senior leadership in the organisation believe it, and are sponsoring the change. That means they need to be visibly giving those change messages, and they need to be acting in accordance with what they say. If you haven’t got senior leadership absolutely behind the change, then sometimes it’s better not to even start!
There should be several review points in your change strategy to offer the chance for feedback. Obviously you will want to get your team’s input at the beginning of the process, but you’ll also want to check in at timed points throughout the change process and when the process is complete. By seeking continued buy in and feedback, you can help to ensure the long-term success of your change.
Don’t forget to be open to modifying your strategy based on feedback from your team - this will increase the feeling that you are all in the change together, working for the good of the organisation as a whole.
THE EXTRA ELEMENT OF SUCCESS
Working with an external change management specialist can help your staff feel empowered and more able to speak freely, before and during the change process. Rather than staff being expected to give feedback directly to their supervisor, manager or senior leaders (to whom they may feel reluctant to speak openly), an outside consultant allows them to speak with confidence.
With a more balanced view of your organisation, an outsider can also provide a neutral evaluation of any feedback based solely on its relevance to the change process and not internal struggles or biases.
JA Consulting works closely with your leadership team and your employees on the ground to ensure that communication flows freely both ways, in a calm and non-judgmental way. Our team can also work with you to ensure your written plans and strategies are clear and communicated at the appropriate times, and to bring in experience and expertise from having delivered many other changes in other similar organisations.
About Caroline Gowing - Caroline is an expert sustainability and change management consultant delivering successful change across Defence, wider corporate business, and the charity sector for the past twenty years. A highly competent strategy and change management facilitator Caroline is able to work with an individual or group to draw out their understanding of a problem and solution and then take this forward in a way that can be easily understood, persuasively communicated and attractively presented.
And a final thought
If you are considering change within your organisation and would like the guidance of an experienced change management team, get in touch with us to discuss the first steps.