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Change Management 101

Updated: Sep 18, 2022

Major change mismanagement can be highly detrimental to organisations as most of these initiatives fail to deliver positive outcomes. This can be costly for businesses in terms of employee turnover, productivity loss and investments being reclassified as expenses on the books.

But, how can we ensure successful change management? To find the right recipe for change management we need to swim deep in the management and leadership oceans. There are many frameworks and dimensions to consider.

Perhaps we should start analysing some of the outcomes we really don’t want to happen: frequent conflicts, lower employee engagement, and high resistance to change. These usually happen when employees feel that the change was imposed on them in no time without consultation and with a massive lack of clarity. But, how we can avoid all of that in a world with limited resources and time?

A simplified effective change management process is summarised below:

+ Establish the right ‘new direction’

The ‘new direction’ and the ‘why’ should be presented to management. A careful analysis should be performed by managers on the new direction, making sure that it is beneficial from all management frameworks lens (structure, HR, political and symbolic). At this point, a draft detailed new direction report should be issued.

+ Align people

The draft new direction should be presented and discussed with senior representatives from all business units and all informal employee coalitions. Compromise should be allowed with the aim of minimising conflicts in the future. After reaching an agreement, a clear report should be issued detailing the new direction and how it will affect the company structure and operations.

+ Motivate and inspire

Managers and the senior representatives involved in the previous step should take considerable time to communicate the new direction to the entire business, and organise a formal consultation process. During this part, managers should highlight the new direction benefits for both the business and employees by using positivity and effective and clear communication. If significant resistance is detected, the new direction should be adjusted without sacrificing the new strategic goal.

+ Produce change

Managers should implement the new direction following the slow-burn approach. It should be one location / department / store / process at the time (as we know, Rome wasn’t built in a day). Managers should provide extra support to employees through effective communication and employee empowerment. Additionally, sufficient time should be provided to employees to adjust. Once all employees in the first team are engaged with the change, the process should be slowly propagated through the business.

+ Monitor and anchor change

Managers and senior representatives should gather periodically to monitor the implementation progress of the new direction, and develop ways to anchor the changes in the culture. All partial victories should be celebrated following company traditions, for example a company barbeque.

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