Imagine that the executives in your organization have decided to make some process changes, and they’ve chosen you to manage it. But as soon as the company-wide memo goes out the grumbling among the stakeholders begins:
“Our current processes aren’t broken. Why fix them?”
“It took years to get this right. Now they want to change it?”
“I’ve been doing this job for years. Now they want me to learn how to do it differently?”
You schedule a meeting with the stakeholders and present the business case. Even though it’s clear that the changes will increase efficiencies and reduce costs, you’re still met with resistance. Why?
If you guessed “fear”, you’re right. People are resistant to change because they’re afraid of the unknown or the possible problems that come with the decision. The flip side of fear is contentment. When people are in familiar surroundings with familiar people doing familiar things, they have nothing to fear. So when change comes along, fear comes with it.
Chaos and Opportunity
The Chinese character for change is a combination of two characters: “chaos” and “opportunity”. The fear of chaos is natural. In 2011, Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolkinseygoman/2011/12/19/why-we-resist-change-and-what-leaders-can-do-about-it/) ranked “resistance to change” as the fourth most career-limiting habit. Some employees look at change as a threat to their careers. They’ve spent many years mastering their job, but now they’re being asked to start over and embrace chaos. This adjustment goes against the general tendency to organize and control our world, build a nest, settle down, and adopt a predictable routine both at home and at work.
The change managers must focus upon is the opportunity for the individual, articulating the opportunity in a meaningful personal context. How will their new skills make them a more valuable teammate? How will their experience using those skills increase their value in the overall marketplace? How will it enable their upward mobility in the organization?
Easing Into It – Planning for Change
Positioning and preparing for change – or progress – is the most important phase of the process. Here are six simple actions that can dramatically reduce stakeholder unease:
- Consult with stakeholders during the decision-making stage
- Discuss reasons for the change with stakeholders
- Ask for feedback from stakeholders
- Clarify everyone’s role in the change process
- Involve stakeholders in the implementation strategy
- Maintain open lines of communication
Implementing successful change requires careful management of the expectations of executives and employees in every phase of the process, so clear and regular communications is paramount. The more you can reduce the chaos, the more opportunities you’ll have for real progress. Including employees in the process evaluation, decision-making, and planning processes will mitigate fears and increase the commitment to making the change successful across the board.
Apero Solutions understands the process and challenges of making innovative changes to your business. We don’t just provide software but become partners in implementing change driven by new solutions in both process and software. Contact us today today to learn more about how to propel your business into the future.