The word “change” can be intimidating -- or even frightening -- to many people. It’s natural for us to get comfortable doing things a certain way and have a tendency to resist the unknown. Unfortunately, resisting change is the reason that many businesses become antiquated and fail. For any organization seeking long-term success, change and effective change management are critical.
At the forefront of an organization’s change is it’s leaders. It’s important for leadership to set up processes that will enable their teams to embrace change and guide them along the way. Having a plan in place is key. While this plan will differ from one company to another based on values and goals, we’ve identified four key steps that leaders can follow to execute effective change management across their teams.
Recognize that Most People Dislike Change. As mentioned above, most people have a tendency to reject change. Change efforts must begin with changing the mindset of each and every one of your employees and getting excited about the changes that are about to happen. Instead of focusing on the challenges that come with change, focus on the positive outcomes that will result from it.
Solicit Input from Employees. Soliciting your team’s input will make them more comfortable with the process. Change management should always begin as a conversation. Rather than tell employees what needs to be done, engage them throughout the entire change process. Connect with your team and ask them for feedback, questions and ideas that will ultimately make the change more successful. This will also increase employees’ confidence and help them feel a sense of ownership for the change initiative.
Communicate and Build Trust. Engaging people throughout the change process facilitates organizational buy-in which makes it possible to move forward. Another way to develop buy-in is by building trust with your employees. When your team trusts you, they’ll be willing to follow you into the unknown territory of change. One way to build trust is through constant, clear and honest communication. Being vulnerable and sharing your challenges and concerns with your team will further prove your authenticity as a leader and make people want to follow you.
Celebrate the Change. Once the initiative has been implemented, acknowledge and celebrate successes that resulted from the change. Change can be taxing on the energy and time of everyone involved, and celebrating small successes along the way will keep your team motivated and engaged to reach your organization’s ultimate goal.
It’s important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. Change management requires several phases of engaging your employees, communicating a clear vision and celebrating successes along the way. When used together, these four steps will help employees open their minds and be more receptive to new ideas and change in order to help the organization grow.