Change is a reality in everyday life. It surrounds us in a fast-paced world that’s both volatile and disruptive.

Change can be a component of disruption, especially when it isn’t managed correctly.

A company’s ability to adapt to change is what separates it from the competition.

With a change management 101 you can embrace and prepare for change, in turn introducing many benefits on an operational level.

Digital transformations are happening everywhere, but when they’re not introduced in a structured, organized fashion they can cause chaos.

That’s why many businesses implement a change management strategy, but what exactly is change management?

What is Change Management?

Change Management helps organizations transition smoothly. The concept has evolved over time, but in today’s work environments hones in on the people side of change.

It can be perceived as a psychological initiative which helps employees modify their perceptions of change.

By changing employee attitudes you’ll help them accept, embrace and commit to change.

Change management practices vary depending on the industry you’re in, but there are many critical change management models which can be applied to various situations.

These guide organizations to new standards of excellence.

Why is Change Management Important?

To be successful companies must acclimate to today’s digital landscape.

Change management plays a critical when companies are implementing new technology, which when introduced can spark widespread fear technology will take over the company.

This creates a level of resistance which is undesirable, to the extent where it’s difficult to seamlessly integrate digital platforms.

Change management tackles resistance, reassuring employees about the gradual introduction of technology and how it will make their jobs easier.

When employees understand change they operate in an open-minded workplace, where tension is eased to aid a smooth transition.

Change management is rooted in a company’s ability to communicate with its workers on a formal level.

By discussing why change is happening, how it will affect jobs and ultimately benefit workers, employees are more likely to embrace the initiatives introduced.

By simply keeping your employees up-to-date with change you’re more likely to maintain an open-minded workforce.

Just imagine suddenly springing changes on employees without giving them an opportunity to offer feedback and gain clarity on a situation. If you were in their position how would that make you feel? 

This approach is a recipe for disaster.

A team open to change will ultimately be more engaged, and perhaps even excited about the prospects change will bring.

This will save your organization valuable time and resources.

An open line of communication will help you build trust with your team. This trust will translate to increased value across the board.

This sets a standard which encourages employees to trust the upper decision-making of management, a standard which elevates when employees feel involved and perhaps have a say in future developments.

It’s natural to fear and reject the unknown, so it’s unsurprising when strategies are set in place without an open line of communication with staff.

Lessening and perhaps eliminating fear can be as simple as creating regular dialogue with staff, a dialogue which gives them an opportunity to get involved.

Creating an innovative, adaptable workplace starts with setting a solid standard for change to maintain consistency.

Best Practices For Successful Change Management

Many change initiatives fall flat, as reflected in the 2013 Towers Watson Study.

This says only 25% of employers understand the long-term gains of their change management efforts, a figure which suggests companies don’t appreciate the true value of change management.

These low success rates are inexcusable in a competitive marketplace, and indicate only elite level companies can successfully broaden horizons and integrate new technology.

For successful change management you should prioritize these simple practices:

Working From the Top Down

Substantial changes begin at the leadership level. When high-ranking employees are at the helm of change, emanating strong support and passion for change, their convincingness will have a trickle effect through the organization.

CEOs, executives and board members must collectively agree on changes, being the first to implement them. 

Policies and procedures are more likely to easily spread to lower-level staff when they can observe changes which start at the top.

When changes are introduced at a low level, new approaches are more likely to be resisted as they gradually move up the corporate hierarchy.

Full cooperation begins at the top end, before introducing changes to staff and giving them an opportunity to offer unique input.

Effective Communication With Employees 

Though covered previously it’s essential we iterate the importance of communication.

When employees grow accustomed to doing things a certain way, change can rear its ugly head at the wrong time, especially when staff aren’t aware of why new practices are being introduced.

Imagine how you would feel if you learned a role inside out and was comfortable with it, only for someone to waltz in and say ‘you’ll be doing things differently from now!’.

Confusion, frustration and disbelief are common emotional responses in this situation. A Prosci study highlighted a lack of understanding as the biggest reason why employees resist change initiatives.

By communicating the reasons why organizational changes are undertaken, resistance can be mitigated significantly. This is a key goal for those responsible for overseeing activities.

Proactive Assessment of Results 

A change management plan can look fantastic on paper, but when practically applied in real world settings complications can arise.

This is pretty natural, especially when you consider things rarely go as you’d expect them to.

The professionals who roll out change management plans must conduct rolling assessments and be willing to modify plans in accordance with real-time changes.

A change management plan should be flexibly adaptable to changing circumstances.

By proactively assessing results you can fix small problems as they come up rather than tackling large complications at a later date.

It is a complex process, but when tackled the right way it’s a very manageable one.

Successful implementation of a change management plan involves an honest analysis of practices, configuring which parts are working well and which aren’t.

Adapting to current circumstances can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful change management plan.

Understand the Experts

Learning from the experts is a great way to roll out a successful change management plan.
There is considerable literature on change management which will help you develop a reliable change management strategy.

You won’t have to try and reinvent the wheel, but learn from the best to establish a proven approach.

Highlight the Benefits of Change

In order for staff to be incentivized to embrace change they must perceive change as desirable.

Though this partly falls under the communication sub-heading, highlighting the benefits of change can take on a philosophical identity.

It’s important to discuss problems with the current system, indicating how successful change will directly impact your team’s everyday ambitions.

Soliciting advice can elevate change, where you can utilize feedback alongside financial data and statistics.

Presentations are a fantastic route for delivering a positive message which promotes change.

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