Have a successful change management process

Have a successful change management process

Change will come. You only need to know how to deal with it. Many strategies have failed not because they were bad but because the organisation did not address change management issues.  The organisation should take care of change management if its strategic implementation has to be successful.
There are certain principles that have proved to work in addressing change management.

Change management initiatives should consider the importance of organisational culture in successful change management.
Many change initiatives have failed resulting in high financial costs to the organisation, confusion, lost opportunities, wasted resources, and leaving staff even more demoralised.
Every change initiative should be well thought through, effected at the right time and within a certain time frame and without dragging it too much or else change fatigue will start to catch up with everyone involved in the change process.

All change initiatives need skilled personnel who can implement the change and who possess the requisite skills otherwise a project that starts well might not be sustained.
Some of the factors discussed below can help management in the transformation process.

Most change management initiatives start at the top. Everyone at the top should agree that change is needed and agree what type of change is to be implemented, when it should be implemented and how it will be implemented and who it will impact.

The CEO and his lieutenants should be in agreement and be totally committed to the exercise.
Once there is agreement at the top the process should now be cascaded to the lower levels. These levels will be the key implementers of change so if they are left out the whole exercise will be a failure.

Lower levels of management and staff need to own the process and only then will implementation be easy and successful.
The middle management and frontline staff can make or break a change management initiative.

These levels are the ones who will likely know the potential problems that might come from the rest of staff, suppliers and customers because they interact with these stakeholders more than the top executives.

Top executives should spend time in the trenches with lower level managers to ensure that they understand the issues that might impede change.
One of the keys to the success of change management is to take care of culture. Culture is very critical to the success of change management.
Business leaders need to address culture by ensuring that cultural issues that might stand as resistors to change are addressed and cultural levers or supporters of change are exploited.
Management and employees have strong attachment to the organisation’s culture and failure to address any negative aspects of culture right at the beginning will be a serious hindrance and drag to an effective change process.

Experienced change management agents are very conscious of the organisation’s existing culture and therefore will do everything to tap into the positive aspects of culture and use these as drives for change.

Any aspects of the culture that are in line with the envisaged change should be identified and harnessed and leveraged for effective change management.
Senior executives should present or communicate the change management initiative to all staff in such a way that it touches on their emotions and therefore raises the required commitment.

People need their hearts to be engaged and only then will they play their part and put maximum effort into the process because they will feel they are part of the process and therefore would like to see it succeed. Change management should result in the change in the mindset of everyone involved. It’s not about rules or directives.
If there is a commitment to change then staff should start changing certain daily behaviours and certain thought processes.

Top executives should show a change in critical behaviour and this will be visible to subordinates and the subordinates will therefore follow suit.
As a leader ensure that you define the critical behavioural changes that will be essential to the success of the initiative.
Business leaders should not stop preaching about change. There is need for continuous communication on the need for change.
Other methods of communication should be used to keep the change message alive. Top leadership need to show their commitment by behaving in line with the change. They need to walk the talk.

This will help to sustain the change management process. There might be a need to “tear down the fences” that separate top executives and lower levels to ensure that change is seen as being serious. Symbolic gestures are very important and very effective in bringing the message home.

The organisation should also take advantage of the employees who wield influence in the organisation despite being lower level employees. These can help sell the change process.
These people should be identified and roped into the change process because of their influence, respect and trust and their role model status.
Most employees will respect their views and therefore will agree with what they do and thus accept the proposed changes.

For a sustained change management process business leaders should put in formal processes to support the initiatives. Structures, processes, reward systems and ways of operating should be changed so that they align with the new dispensation. All staff need to be trained and developed so that they move with the times. The established organisation culture should also be aligned to the change desired or else it begins to undermine unconsciously the anticipated change.

Stewart Jakarasi is a business & financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management.
He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.
l For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: sjakarasi@gmail.com or +266 58881062 or on WhatsApp +266 62110062

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