Change management comes in a countless variety of forms, and there is no single recipe for its success, but effective communication is almost always key. It also helps if employees have the tools to continually manage change. For this reason, many companies incorporate change management training as a mandatory part of employee development.
Even with a trained workforce, the path forward isn’t always simple. A recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources found that 46% of top-level executives encountered serious obstacles in the execution phase of their change management efforts.
Here are 3 key steps business leaders can take to help ensure successful change management outcomes.
1. Define key roles. Establish leadership roles at the outset, and make sure people are on board with the change and their roles in it. Determine the change sponsors, the change agents, and the change targets.
The executive sponsor should explain the business reasons for the change, while the agents help to implement it. It’s up to the sponsors and the agents to ensure that the targets—the people affected by the change—are informed, on board, and able to adapt.
2. Recognize common voids and uncertainties. Employees are bound to experience some uncertainty with any major change. It’s important for sponsors and agents to manage the initial exposure to the change. To successfully direct employee perceptions and expectations at the outset, executive leaders should determine and recognize the stressors that employees are most likely to experience.
In the early 1980s, British Airways underwent a massive restructuring with the potential to destabilize the company and alienate employees. Fortunately for the airline, the chairman sponsoring this change maintained transparency throughout the process. From the start, he openly addressed employee uncertainties and concerns. The reward for his honesty and communication was a more informed, organized, and united company.
3. Pinpoint and celebrate successes. Change isn’t easy for anyone, but recognizing specific achievements along the way stimulates a positive perception of the change.
For example, successful print management is not just about deploying technology; it’s also about changing employee printing habits. Business leaders find it quite rewarding when employees can equate minor workflow changes with significant financial and sustainability results. Commitment to change grows fast when you keep people informed and aligned with progress.
Every organization realizes change is necessary to grow and compete in a dynamic global marketplace. Still, change is difficult; the tools of change management help CEOs and other business leaders to mitigate the risks of change and increase the likelihood of success.