Death, taxes, and organizational change.
Three things you can't seem to escape in life. We all go through changes in life, work, careers, but it’s never easy, or without bumps. Organizational change is probably the hardest for employees to get on board with. Why?
Because while employees may understand the need for change, many times it’s the way change is initiated and implemented.
Here are four ways to “flat tire” your organization when implementing change:
You see an issue (good), but you implement a solution without discovering the root cause.
Band-aid organizational changes can’t fix gushing wounds. If you choose not to dig deep into the issue, you risk not fixing what’s broken. You end up treating the symptoms but not the disease. You have to start investigating the what, the why, the how. And involve everyone. Not just your executives, not your ivory tower leaders, but your front line, middle managers, and even contract employees. Get 360-degree feedback. And then gather a round table of individuals at all levels to discuss issues, but remember to keep the focus on solutions.
You stop listening to everyone. (And that includes your most important feedback from front line employees.)
If you fear talking with your front line staff or middle management, then something’s not right. You have to be ready to hear their complaints along with their thoughts on solutions. It’s important to see issues through their eyes. Do their tasks (and you may have done them in the past, but step back in and remind yourself what it felt like), follow in their footsteps. Will the changes you want to implement actually make their life easier or harder? Are these changes going to give them more time and opportunity, or less in the end? Will creating the proposed changes for them be worth the trouble or are their better solutions?
You change everything all at once.
Tsunamis and tidal waves create destruction, while regular waves change the landscape over time. Give your teams time to adjust to smaller changes while keeping the big picture in mind. Small, incremental changes are easier to implement for everyone and less frightening. Plus, they give you the time to create, measure, edit, and optimize every small step along the way. This agility helps the desired change become a reality with less push back and more positive outcomes.
You create change without “real” communication.
Communication is not about creating cheerleaders for your new idea (although that would be a great outcome), new processes or new software application. Real communication means stepping back and helping everyone see the big picture and the small details before you ask for buy in. The “why” is as important as the “how”. Before you tell people they need to change, let them see what change can do for them. Paint the picture of the future, and be honest. With change comes some waves of positive and negative outcomes. That should be expected. It won’t come easy, and be ready to hear complaints. But help them to understand once they’ve learned the new software, systems, or processes, that they’ll move past the difficult times and into times that help make their days, tasks, jobs, etc easier. Focus on the “what does this really mean for you,” versus the “how to”.
Often changes are forced onto employees without thoroughly understanding the rationale. This misstep creates resentment, frustration, and sometimes employee turnover. And that can be avoided. Before you push the go button on change, remember that you’re dealing with humans. And as humans, it’s important we feel heard, we feel a part of the process, and we understand what change will help us do collectively, and individually.
As we say at HammerTech, our technology can help you work better, but no technology will work if you aren’t ready as an organization to correctly implement change.