A constant in an ever-evolving business world is change. A French novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote down an epigram about change management when he said, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” which means, The more things change, the more they stay the same. Bringing about change in an organization is far from an easy task; however, it is imperative if you don’t want to be left behind by your competitors.
While bringing about change in an organization is critical, it is also important to know how to implement change effectively and successfully; otherwise, it could result in loss of financial resources as well as create confusion among employees. According to a 2013 Strategy&/Katzenbach Center survey of global senior executives on culture and change management, the success rate of major change initiatives is only 54%.
Here are some tips that will help you to successfully implement initiatives of change within your organization.
- Lead with Culture and Integrity
Lou Gerstner, who as chief executive of IBM, led one of the most successful business transformations in history, said the most important lesson he learned from the whole experience was that “Culture is everything.” An organization’s culture forms the core of the company. Often decision makers are so focused on the process, reporting lines, decisions rights etc that they could forget that employees have strong emotional connections to the culture of the organization. Instead of trying to change the culture itself, the wise thing to do would be to tap into the culture and think of a creative way to boost the change initiative.
Performance integrity is another crucial element to the success of an initiative. It is basically the extent to which companies can rely on teams of managers, supervisors, and staff to execute change projects successfully. Hence, picking the team for your change management project is important. Pick good team leaders who will have problem-solving skills, who is results-oriented, methodical in their approach, willing to accept responsibility for decisions and are highly motivated.
- Start at the top but involve every layer
Like mentioned earlier picking out the team to drive a change initiative in important. The core team needs to consist of people in senior positions as they will be best suited to take the critical decisions; however, strategic planners often fail to take into account the extent to which mid-level and frontline people can make or break a change initiative. The process of rolling out change is more effective if these employees are roped into the project. People are more invested in a project when they have a hand in developing some part of the plan or when their opinions are considered.
- Engage your employees
Many change initiatives seem to assume that people will shift their behaviors once formal elements like directives and incentives are put into place. However, it is far more critical to ensure that people’s daily behaviors reflect in the direction of change. Senior leaders must visibly carry out the change themselves. Employees will believe the change is real when they see it happening at the top of the company management. It is also important to constantly interact and engage with employees at various levels. When you engage with the employees they automatically feel more involved and are willing to go the extra mile and participate.
- Asses and Adapt
The Strategy&/Katzenbach Center survey revealed that many organizations fail to measure the success of the initiative at each stage before moving on. Leaders can often be so eager to claim a victory that they don’t take time to find out what’s working and what is not so that they can make adjustments to the plan accordingly. Hence the leadership and the plan needs to have scope to make adjustments so that the plan can be as efficient as can be.
- Don’t over complicate the change
If you keep a fruit bowl with bananas and oranges, bananas will always get over before the oranges. The interesting thing is that it’s not because of the fruit itself. The difference in their popularity comes down to one thing: how easy they are to peel. This is referred to as the Banana principle. Over a century ago, the philosopher Guillaume Ferrero proposed that humans operate on the Principle of Least Effort, that means given several paths, we pick the easiest. Find a way to make the change initiative as appealing, creative, emotionally driven and simple as possible. It will help get the best response from the employees.
Executing a change initiative is not an easy task. Moreover, the need for it is only going to become more and more urgent, which means that it needs to be done right.