In order to reach their full potential, every organization needs to be able to adapt to changes.
Maybe your company isn’t as organized as it could be and a ton of resources are being wasted. Maybe employees are overwhelmed with work and a majority of them are looking for new jobs. Maybe you’re relying on outdated systems, tools, and processes and your organization is not anywhere near as effective as it could be. Maybe you need to reduce your expenses as you figure out how to navigate an uncertain economic climate.
Whatever the case may be, from time to time all successful companies are forced to undergo organizational changes. Unfortunately, these efforts often don’t turn out the way executives expect them to. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, 70% of organizational change efforts are unsuccessful.
Change is hard for many people. But the good news is that you can increase the chances your organizational change efforts are successful by taking the right approach.
Much like someone trying to lose weight can’t shed 20 pounds in a few days, organizations can’t expect to completely change overnight. As they say, inch by inch is a cinch. Work on organizational change in increments and you’ll enjoy better results.
Follow these nine steps and see your organizational change dreams become reality.
01. Management needs to be on the same page
Unless the whole management team is on board with the proposed changes, it will be next to impossible to convince the rest of your employees that the change efforts are indisputably worthwhile. Prior to announcing your change initiatives, be sure to spend a lot of time discussing the ideas with other managers to ensure that everyone is on the same page and everyone is excited about the same plan. Build consensus before bringing the plan to the team.
02. Make the case for change effectively
Once you’ve put together a preliminary organizational change plan, it’s time to share the message with your employees. Tell them very clearly why the proposed changes are necessary. Let them know how, specifically, the changes will improve their lives. For example, maybe a rejig is necessary in order to keep your company in business — and keep your workers employed. Or maybe the reorganization will make it easier to do their jobs. Tell your employees how they themselves and the organization stand to benefit from the changes. This should convince them to come on board.
03. Involve employees in the decision-making process
It’s one thing to take orders. It’s another thing to be involved in the decision-making process yourself and have the ability to change the plan for the better. Once you’ve shared the message with your employees, ask them whether they want to be involved in designing the plan. Hopefully a handful of employees will be willing to participate in developing the organizational change plan. Not only will your workers’ contributions help increase employee buy-in, you should also end up with a stronger, better-rounded plan.
04. Continue to garner support and refine the plan
As your employees start contributing to the organizational change plan, continue talking with the uninvolved employees about the benefits of the proposed changes. See whether they have any ideas or opinions about what you’re considering implementing. Over time, you should get even more employees to buy into your proposal. Continue refining your plan while trying to take the best ideas from every contributor into account.
05. Communicate the changes clearly in a timely manner
Once you’ve finalized your plans, don’t hesitate to take it straight to your team. Plan a meeting at the beginning of the year or the beginning of the quarter that you’ll use to discuss the important changes that are going into effect. Make sure there’s enough time for employees to become familiar with the plan and what’s expected of them. You can’t expect to make significant changes overnight. Make sure that there’s a support system in place. That way, when employees invariably come up with some questions, they know where to find the answers they’re looking for.
06. Create a timeline for implementation of the changes — and stick to it
Let your employees know when they can expect to see these changes implemented. This enables your workers to have enough time to prepare for the changes. If you’re revamping your entire tech infrastructure, for example, you may want to devote some resources to training to make sure that your employees are already familiar with the new tools they’re going to use before you put them in place. The last thing you want is to make a major change that your employees aren’t prepared to handle. In addition to a loss of productivity, that’s a surefire way to lower employee morale by frustrating workers.
07. Ask your employees how the changes are coming along
Don’t assume that your organizational change efforts are automatically working well. Even the most meticulous plans will almost certainly cause an organization to experience some amount of growing pains. Once you’ve implemented your new measures, make sure to ask your employees how they’re doing on a regular basis. That way, you keep your fingers on the pulse of the situation as it develops and prove to your employees that you’re invested in their well-being and success.
08. Use that feedback to revise your change process further
Depending on the feedback you’ve received, it’s time to refine the changes you’ve made even further. Maybe a new process that looked bulletproof on paper needs a bit of tweaking. Maybe you’re missing out on one critical platform you didn’t think your team needed. Your initial organizational change plan isn’t set in stone. Continue revising it to increase the chances that your change initiatives lead you to the outcomes you desire.
09. Celebrate the success of your change initiatives
Now that you’ve successfully implemented your organizational change plan, it’s time to celebrate your victory! Your employees have changed their entire approach to work at your request. Reward them for their hard work and commitment to your organization to show how much you appreciate their efforts. You’ll boost employee morale and increase engagement
So many things can go wrong when you launch a change management initiative. But by doing your due diligence, being patient, including your employees in the process, and continuing to review and refine your plan, you increase the chances your efforts are successful. Good luck!
- 10 Quick and Easy Ways to Begin Organizational Change
- 3 Examples of Organizational Change and Why They Got It Right