Change is a constant state of being in today’s fast-paced workplace. This stems from the fact that technology, globalization, and economic conditions are constantly changing at an increasing pace.
Managing constant and rapid organizational structure changes is one of the most fundamental aspects of leadership. Although popular leadership models provide a formula to help solve business problems, they are often insufficient for managing rapid change.
To effectively manage change, leaders need to have specific skills and abilities to develop a plan of action for their teams. Effective leadership coaching can help managers and leaders develop the right skills to manage change in the workplace.
Tips on Managing Change
Below are five ways to help you manage changes in your organization:
1. Lead with the Corporate Culture
Leadership is neither only nor always about leadership qualities. Many discussions of what influential leaders do inhibit the future generation from becoming more innovative and creative when implementing cultural change, such as imagining a shared vision for all employees in an organization.
Lou Gerstner, former chief executive of IBM who oversaw one of the most successful business transformations in history, said that culture was everything. According to a survey by Katzenbach Center to business people, 84% said the culture is critical to success in change management, while 64% saw it as more important than operating model or strategy.
Despite this importance, many leaders fail to address culture both ways (overcoming resistance and using support) during changes.
Corporate culture is developed when employees create goals and strategies with their leaders in a team-based approach. By taking the time to understand the company’s culture, leaders can harness deeply ingrained strengths and improve employee productivity. To avoid incoherence, take time to acknowledge each company’s strengths and understand how they fit into the change process.
2. Alignment and Coordination from the Executives to Employees
Leaders must act as change agents to effectively manage change. Change starts from the top of the organization and spreads down to employees closest to customers, operations, and other critical tasks.
It is not enough for leaders to explain the vision of the change; they should also act as role models and let their employees feel that their behaviors are consistent with the changes.
To have a successful change management initiative, the top executives need to be inclusive, committed, and aligned. This cannot happen by accident – it must occur in advance, with each group member agreeing about what is going on to support one another through its implementation.
Executives must explain the expected results of their actions so that employees can understand what they are trying to achieve. Leaders need to lay out their vision for the future when communicating with employees at all levels in the organization. This will motivate employees to take ownership of the change process and work together.
3. Get Everyone on Board and Working Together
Identifying the need for change is essential to ensure that any changes made are necessary. Having everyone on board and working together for the same cause is fundamental to success.
It will be hard to gauge if there truly is a problem or how urgent these issues may be without engaging in dialogue. Many times, mid level and frontline people can make or break a change initiative. In most cases, strategic planners tend not to take this into account.
A path of rolling out changes is smoother if every employee is tapped early for input on issues that will affect their jobs. They may hold knowledge about potential glitches, how customers might react to the changes, technical and logistical challenges, along with where they could occur – all of which would help make smooth transitions easier.
Furthermore, full-hearted engagement from front-line employees could make or break a change initiative. For this reason, organizations should strive to build trust between employees and managers to establish an environment so employees can bring their best to work every day.
4. Communication is Key
One of the most important things that leaders can do to manage change is communicate with their employees. A common flaw most leaders make is that everyone will understand what to do once they convey a strong message of change.
Change requires constant communication. This means not only during the implementation of a plan but also after its major elements are in place. The more kinds of communication used to promote change, the better it will be impactful and be received by employees.
Communication will engage employees, help them understand expectations, and explain what changes will occur and how those changes will affect their jobs. The more information dispensed, the easier it is for employees to make decisions about the changes.
When communicating with employees, leaders must ask them for feedback and be open to receiving their suggestions and hearing about the problems they encounter. Discussing what is being done well and whether there are opportunities for improvement will make a collaborative environment for making decisions together. This will empower employees as if the change is initiated by them too, instead of something forced on them.
5. Managing Change is a Leadership Skill
Change management takes commitment, continuity, strong leadership skills, and staying focused to ensure the project’s success. It is challenging to change behavior without changing the formal elements of reward systems, structure, training, and ways of operating.
Managing change should be viewed as a leadership skill that requires the proper training and coaching. Learning how to manage change is a lifelong journey. Leaders who don’t understand this may find themselves more vulnerable to meeting challenges and setbacks along the way.
It requires them to take their time putting the right strategies in place, be patient with employees during implementation, and commit to achieving success. Managing change can also help leaders develop stronger self-awareness and understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
Transformational change is arduous and exacting work that requires strong leadership. Managing change requires a lot of resilience, patience, and commitment from everyone involved. It also requires thorough planning, strong communication skills, and continuous coaching. These five strategies offer a robust template for leaders committed to making it happen.
Leaders can make this journey easier by including coaching sessions as part of the process, asking employees for feedback, and sharing as much information as possible. Managing change can be difficult, but leaders who take the right approach will significantly improve their chances of success.