Is Change Necessary?
Read Time: 5 minutes
As an organization, a culture of change is essential. When everyone is looking for ways to grow, evolve technology, compete with an edge, it makes for an exciting work environment as well as a leading company in any industry.
The old adage, “a new broom sweeps clean,” refers to the tendency of leadership to make changes based on impulse and idea rather than calculated need. That approach to change leads to confusion, resistance, and failed initiatives. Instead, leaders evaluate change by first determining if the change will:
- Further the company’s mission and be in line with its values.
- Have clear objectives—it must accomplish something more than bragging rights for the next new thing.
- Meet the criteria for a high priority project, including impact anticipated and effort required.
- Have benefits that can be clearly communicated to employees.
- Address concerns raised by employees about both the type of change being considered and the expected results.
- Support the financial and customer service objectives of the company.
- Achieve buy-in by all leaders—not just lip service.
- Include a step-by-step plan for implementation—change never happens simply by asking for it.
- Be within the capabilities of the team responsible for implementing the change.
- Provide a way for teams and employees to communicate back up the chain to leaders.
Tip: Approaching change with a predictable process will bring reliability to the process. Consider using a Pre-Change Evaluation Tool.
Is This The Right Time
There are certain times in the organization when it makes complete sense to alter direction. The following are some of the more crucial times.
- Mediocre Performance: A basic need for every company is to financially excel. When there is mediocre performance by an individual, department, or globally it is time to assess the issues and course-correct immediately.
- Unexpected Bombshells: Business is full of surprises. From market gaps to industry failures, business is a fragile, symbiotic relationship where a slip from one company has a ripple effect throughout various markets. An organization’s ability to navigate the ripple effect determines their sustainability.
- Competitors Outperform: Any company with long-term goals has to continually expand its position in the marketplace. This means keeping an eagle-eyes view on competitors. It’s not about outdoing what they are doing. It’s making sure that what and how you are doing you, following your Mission, Vision, Purpose, Mantra, and Values (MVPMV) continues to what consumers are looking for within your marketplace.
Note: Mistakes companies often make is focusing too closely on the competitors they know. This action is dangerous because leadership can lose sight of scanning the broader market for upcoming organizations that can overtake market shares, or scarier, replace them altogether. Think outside the box and know what areas your organization is vulnerable. For example, the taxi industry didn’t see Uber coming or anticipate the consumer’s desire to travel in personal vehicles over standardized cabs. How about the hotel industry versus AirBnB? Or brick and mortar stores meeting the desires of online shopping? It’s the up-n-comers that are used to instilling change that overtake the tried-and-true.
- Gaps in Efficiency: Whether it’s gaps in communication, competencies, abilities, or processes any inefficiencies will impact the organization in results, profits, and growth. Continuous evaluation, change, and improvement in gap areas is critical to maintaining a position in markets or moving up in the industry.
- Opportunities Abound: There are two theories on building a business: 1) Go deep into a market and provide comprehensive services and products to become the “go-to” company that does it all; 2) Focus on mastering a select few services and products that meet the needs of various industries, essentially go wide in scope. However the approach, there must be a consistent analysis of how to create new opportunities within the field or taking the service to a new level.
- Technological Advancements: If there is one thing that will require organizations to change its technological advancements. Computing systems evolve, production equipment becomes more intuitive, internal communication tools provide more efficiency, and so on. Technology will even force the most resistant companies to advance, typically with fewer positive results.
Steps for Implementing Change
There are four essential steps for implementing change. These four are based on the above work being completed prior to implementation. Otherwise, you’re stepping over critical elements of the change process. Keep in mind these steps are not sequential but are implemented concurrently. There are overlaps, ebbs and flows to all of the steps so be flexible in every approach.
- Strategy: Develop an implementation strategy that is aligned with growth objectives and the MVPMV. The strategy will cover each department’s role, responsibilities, feasibility, ease of implementation, and communication. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to form cross-functional teams where each perspective and viewpoint of the idea can be evaluated, dissected, thrown into a sandbox, and reformed into a new opportunity.
- Communication: Communication is more than how to announce changes. It gets into messaging, timing, verbiage, uniformity, repetition, mediums, and much more. The communication during a change process will be the deciding factor in gaining forward momentum and buy-in from employees.
- Resources: It’s important to have internal and external resources available throughout the entire process. This could involve an internal video series demonstrating training material to marketing documents for vendors explaining a new ordering process. The more variety offered to understanding and implementing changes the easier it will be for people to get on board.
- People: There will be people in every organization that are change initiators, resistors, and those in the middle. Each brings a strength to the change process and an organization leveraging those strengths will be key to the success of results.
Tip: Leverage the natural strengths of your workforce by using the Kolbe Index.
Post assessments come in many forms. They can be done as daily audits, weekly tracking of KPIs, surveys completed by key stakeholders, analytic dashboards, and more. The power of post-assessments is the feedback and audit information provided. An organization can apply the learning to a current change process and also modify any future processes to be more effective and efficient. Consider using some of these post-assessment tools:
- People Focused: Surveys, Questionnaires, Focus Groups, Interviews, Observations
- Process Focused: Webbing, Mapping, Supervisor Reports, Checklists, Schematics
- Data Focused: Document Review, MITRE’s Approach, Frameworks, KPI analytic software
Establishing a culture of change by hiring people who thrive on change and develop leaders that think creatively makes organizational change easier. Couple with pre-evaluation to determine the need for change and the right timing will provide positive momentum in the beginning of the change process.
After significant pre-work is done, there are four steps to implementing change. They are:
Using reliable post-assessments to support the change process, evaluate the process journey, and validity of results will aide in deterring if the change was warranted and worth the energy as well as providing feedback on future attempts at change management.