Let’s be brutally honest – the moment we hear that something is going to change our first thoughts are “how is it going to affect me?” or “what’s in it for me?”
Think of any change, be it an office move (is it going to take longer to get to work, cost me more?) to a new system (now I have to learn something different and it’s going to take me more time) or a company restructure (new reporting lines, uncertainty…the unknown!)
Change has both positive and negative impacts, but sometimes it is hard to see beyond the pain.
So when you are involved in a change initiative, take the time to sit back and think about the following before immediately acting.
- Who really are your stakeholders? Remember employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers and business partners can all be affected depending on the nature of the change. Sometimes there may be less obvious stakeholders…don’t assume someone won’t be affected.
- What is actually changing for them? What needs to be done differently? And why? Just as importantly, what isn’t changing for them?
- Why should people embrace the change? This stems from the thought ‘what’s in it for me?’ People need to understand the value of change – help them understand that although the future will be different there is value, benefit and opportunity.
- Who are the potential winners and losers? Without appearing negative, we need to understand who may gain from the change and those who may appear to be adversely affected.
- Can potential losses be reduced or avoided? Are there benefits which can offset or override the negatives? Don’t ignore or hide potential disadvantages – acknowledge and consider how their impact can be lessened.
- What can we do to help those people who perceive this change as ‘bad’ to embrace it? Past experiences can often colour our attitude towards change. Give people time, help them recognise that change typically involves learning new knowledge and skills and can affect behaviour patterns. Remember if a change is being done to you (as opposed to you being in control of the change) it is normal to experience a range of reactions from fear of failure to actively fighting change to quietly undermining it.
- What are the immediate/short-term benefits that can facilitate moving the change forward? Yes, reinforcing the ‘compelling future’ of the desired end goal of the change is vital. Help motivate and inspire people further by highlighting and tracking shorter term benefits during the change initiative. Incorporate intermediate benefits on the path to end benefits.
“Effective change managers know that a change will fail in whole or in part unless it engages the commitment and motivation of the people who must receive the change”.
Change Management Body of Knowledge, Change Management Institute.
If you need advice or guidance on managing business change with minimal disruption contact us on +65 6818 5771.