change management

Change Management Helps Achieve Business Goals

If there is one thing that is true, it is that change is the only constant. According to Gartner, the average organization has implemented about five significant business changes over the last three years.

However, only 34% of such changes are deemed a clear success by the organization. It can be hard to cope with change, both on the technical front and on account of the psychological fear of the unknown. That is human nature.

This is why many employees either reject any proposal for change or are slow to adopt it. Change management  helps the company and all its team members navigate change while obtaining the desired results from it.

So, what is change management?

Change management is how an organization makes improvements to its internal processes without disrupting the day-to-day workflow and at a minimal cost. 

It is a step-by-step approach that covers multiple aspects of the business that will be affected by the change, including company culture, operational procedures, hierarchy, division of duties, work ethic band so on.

It enables a company to take advantage of change at the right time and in the right fashion, with everyone’s buy-in, to consistently match up to consumer demands and beat the competition.

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Why effective change management matters

It is extremely common to see pushback from the company when a change, such as a new tool or a new process, is proposed. This is primarily because of inertia, a preference for simply doing things as they have always been done rather than grappling with the unknown. 

With change management, the focus shifts from simply imposing the new change to actively guiding everyone through the transition, taking their inputs as relevant. Fears and concerns are acknowledged, and effort is taken to address them all.

Once individual employees are convinced about the why of the change, they voluntarily put in effort to make the change work. And the more employees put in voluntary efforts, the bigger the positive impact ripples across the organization.

Change management, moreover, does not stop once the change is in place. It involves continuously monitoring success metrics and employee satisfaction levels to ensure that the change is accomplishing what it was meant to.

Change management, moreover, does not stop once the change is in place. It involves continuously monitoring success metrics and employee satisfaction levels to ensure that the change is accomplishing what it was meant to.

This allows for timely pivoting as and when needed so that the why of the change continues to be fulfilled, without time and money wasted on the wrong things.

The implications of poor change management

When the team’s needs are not adequately considered, and the change is implemented hastily or too authoritatively, it leads to negative consequences. Things that change managers might be forced to deal with include:

  • A drop in employee productivity.
  • Loss of motivation among teams.
  • Friction between employees and top leadership.
  • The exit of top performers owing to the lack of a shared vision.
  • Reluctance from management or top performers to be fully committed.

Change management in practice: an example

To illustrate the difference between subpar and good change management, here is a hypothetical example. Let us say a SaaS company is introducing a new tool that gathers customer support data and feedback in real-time to enhance customer experience.

A subpar change management approach would be sending out an email about it perhaps a week in advance, scheduling a quick training session and launching the tool shortly after.

This approach fails to consider whether employees genuinely understand why the change is necessary and how to best leverage the change to fulfill goals.

A better approach involves devising a plan that lists potential questions and roadblocks that employees might face and addresses those during the course of the change.

It lays out a reasonable time line that allows employees to adjust properly to the new state of affairs and see for themselves in concrete terms why the change is necessary for business growth and why it is something that should not be feared.

With this approach, employee buy-in can be obtained in advance. Any incompatibilities are identified early on so that companies need not waste money on new systems that employees do not see the value of or perhaps do not even need.

Benefits of having a change management strategy

Change at any level is not easy, and at the organizational level, there are several complexities to be overcome.

Having a systematic process in place to introduce, advocate for and navigate the change enables the desired goals to be met much sooner while minimizing resistance from team members, third-party suppliers and clients.

The key advantages of following a change management strategy in any company to achieve goals consistently include:

1. Minimizing disruptions

Simply imposing change on a team or diving into it ad hoc can be highly costly in terms of workplace disruptions. A change management plan helps to decide in advance how the transition can work efficiently within the existing business environment and routine.

2. Sticking to the budget

Navigating change tends to be expensive, and poorly executed plans and reduced productivity due to unnecessary delay can considerably increase those expenses. With a proper change management plan, cost estimates can be drawn up in advance, and you can allocate a reasonable budget that change managers can keep in mind in the future.

3. Optimizing clarity and efficiency

Following a predetermined plan provides much more clarity about milestones, roadblocks and role assignments in the context of the change. It saves time and money by providing direction upfront and thus makes change implementation much more efficient.

A well-thought-out strategy also helps with the stress of managing several different elements at the same time, especially if the change has multiple facets or iterations to it.

4. Improving communication with employees

When teams work together to make something happen, it is always vital to have a complete understanding of everyone’s roles and responsibilities while being confident that one’s questions will be heard.

Change management, especially during the planning stage, allows for these aspects to be cleared out for everyone’s benefit. This also helps change managers go into it with an increased understanding of where everyone’s priorities lie.

With open communication within and among teams, the stress of adapting to change goes down, and everyone becomes more amenable to future changes.

When teams work together to make something happen, it is always vital to have a complete understanding of everyone’s roles and responsibilities while being confident that one’s questions will be heard.

5. Aligning the change with business goals

Any company-wide change needs to align business systems and practices better with overarching company goals.

By investing in change management planning, each proposed change can be viewed in the context of the bigger picture, such as the ROI involved, as well as in the context of departmental silos and stakeholder perspectives that may need to be challenged.

This is a critical step forward in getting everyone’s buy-in and ensuring everyone proactively welcomes the change.

6. Gaining a competitive edge

Often, critical business opportunities come along unexpectedly, and the company may lose them if they are not quick enough to react.

Having a change management plan can serve as a blueprint for weathering future changes, and the more the company does it, the faster and better they get.

Change management also creates a culture of welcoming change for the better, which means companies can quickly build new competitive advantages and get ahead in the market.

Over to you

Change can be scary even if the company has navigated changes before, but it can also lead to various improvements at the individual and organizational levels if done right.

Change management allows the company to ease into the new state of affairs without having to tamp down their concerns or weather too many disruptions.

This way, everyone can feel optimistic about the change and actively embrace it, allowing the company to reap the benefits of the change much sooner.

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