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Top 10: managing change…

1: Embedding is important: making the change is relatively easy; it’s embedding the change that’s difficult.  Ensure you have both a strategy and resources to keep the change going, once the changes have been made

2: 3Is: inform, involve, inspire: keep people informed at all times – even if there is no news, say so.  Change situations are notorious for people fearing the worst; the rumour mill will be rife.  Uncertainty breeds fear.  Let people know, as soon as you know, what’s going on.  Keep people involved.  It is their change in that they have to make it work, and they have to take whatever ‘hit’ is going.  You owe it to them: it’s their business too.  The more involved they are, the more ownership they are likely to have, and the more ideas about what will work and what won’t.  Inspire: change is a time for leadership.  People need a clear and relevant destination; clear and workable strategies; and a support system that values people as much as results.

3: Consider costs of not changing: the usual advice, of course, is to sell the benefits, which is true.  But it may be more important, and telling, to sell the costs that might result if there is no change.  Negative consequences can be an important lever.

4: Create momentum: the natural state of most organisations is inertia.  It takes a considerable push, or force, to get the mass moving.  Choose strategies, actions and events that will provide, and regularly sustain, momentum.

5: Create quick wins: people know you are serious if they can see signs of change happening.  All the better if these signs are positive in their impact.  So, early in the campaign, identify quick wins that will be popular, are within your control, and can be adequately resourced.

6: Turkeys….: don’t vote for Christmas.  In other words, you won’t be able to win everyone round.  There are likely to be losers – who, by the way, are likely to be the most vociferous: don’t ignore the quiet or silent majority.  If there have to be losers, be honest, be fair, and compensate for loss.

7: Minimise the pain: a lot of pain comes from uncertainty, giving up their comfort zones, having to learn new ways, and physical loss like distance from close friends or less easy travel to work patterns.  Work hard to identify these losses, and offer some compensation where that is possible.  If you’re not sure what this might be – ask those affected: “What would help…?”  Suppose you’re on a long haul flight which has 200 passengers but only 180 in flight meals.  It will take another 12 hours to get the extra meals….or you could leave and arrive on time, and compensate the unlucky 20.  Which would you choose?

8: Offer support: another appreciated gesture.  This can come in many forms, including personal 1-1 coaching and counselling; special and timely training; redeployment; bonus or incentive payments for additional hours; cover for retraining; managers who listen and can genuinely empathise.

9: Reward change: offering a tangible reward to individuals or groups who achieve change goals or milestones not only recognises the additional efforts made, and loyalty shown, but also may act an an encouragement or inducement for some.  Ideally the reward should be in the improvements achieved through the change, but in the early days, quite often the costs and difficulties are more visible (short term pain, long term gain).  And rewarding change helps with the embedding process…

10: Change is inevitable: perhaps too much is made of change as if it were a project, rather than a lifestyle or state.  Most organisations now will be in permanent change – where change is the norm or order of the day.  In such cases, organisations need to pay particular attention – and reward – to employees who have the requisite skills and attitude to be flexible and responsive to whatever the business needs…

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