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Managing change in the workplace: 8 steps for success

Managing change in the workplace

The way in which organisations manage change in the workplace is critical to the success of the initiative. 

Change, whether enforced by external factors or driven from within in the pursuit of a goal, is commonplace across all businesses. From small tweaks to procedure or technology, to complete overhauls of structure and operations, change is what drives innovation and long-term success.

But as any business owner or people leader will know, implementing something new is rarely straightforward and there are inevitably going to be some roadblocks along the way.

In this article, we’re going to look at how organisations can make a success of change, and the steps that it’s wise to take to make sure you get there.

Understand the reason for change 

Change shouldn’t be instigated for the sake of it, and any new initiative is usually in the pursuit of a positive end result. 

Truly understanding the reason for the change in the first place will make it far easier to create a pathway to success, understand what success looks like, and effectively communicate with relevant stakeholders to gain total buy-in. 

Declare what success looks like

Not setting what the desired outcome is can lead to a wishy-washy process of implementation – and if the instigators of change aren’t sure what the end result should be, then there’s a higher chance of project failure. 

Really understanding the reason for change, from external pressures to internal initiatives, will help to cement in place a targeted end result that everyone can drive towards. 

Create a pathway to success

What are the stepping stones that will lead to a successful initiative completion? 

Change can include many stakeholder groups, require numerous procedural updates and impact almost all areas of an organisation. Without breaking the process down into manageable and easy-to-delegate tasks, the overall project can become overwhelming and misunderstood. 

Having a plan will reduce the risk of errors, and minimise any downtime or productivity slide too. 

Communicate the change

People can be opposed to change, especially if it feels like it’s being enacted ‘for the sake of it’. 

That’s where your internal communications come in. Being able to concisely explain why a change is taking place, what the desired outcome will be, and the path to achieving it, will ensure that employees and other stakeholders will be more likely to engage with the process and more readily adapt to new ways of working. 

Develop change leaders

Who will be leading the process of change? Who amongst the workforce have trusted voices and can bring people along with them?

Developing a network of internal change leaders is critical for enacting change of any size, but especially those which affect an entire workforce or have big ramifications for how day-to-day operations will differ in the future. 

Your change leaders will also help identify any threats to the project itself from their knowledge of fellow peers and current processes. This information is invaluable to reducing project lead times and associated costs. 

Learn more about developing an internal change leadership network here

Implement the change 

All planning done and comms in place, it’s all systems go!

If the initial planning steps have been done correctly, then this should (hopefully) feel like different pieces of a puzzle falling into place, in the right order, and at the right time. 

Of course, there can be hiccups and unforeseen roadblocks along the way, but you can now finally start to look forward towards the positive final outcome you’ve been working towards.

Listen carefully for feedback 

There’s a reason we say listen for feedback, and not listen to feedback. 

Periods of change, in particular, can elicit a lot of ‘unheard’ grumblings and comments from stakeholders that won’t usually get reported back to the people who need to hear them. But these comments are important as they could help identify issues with any new initiatives, or indeed updates that can be made to streamline new processes or mitigate future issues. 

HR has a key role to play here in that they can ask for feedback from employees through Pulse Surveys and other tools. But it’s incumbent on team leaders, and those aforementioned change leaders, to listen to what people are saying, and act on what’s been said. 

Track everything, improve what needs improving 

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. During the planning stages and setting what success looks like, you should have also decided how that success would be measured. What KPIs will you be tracking to inform you as to whether the new initiative has truly worked? 

What you track is entirely up to you, but core HR metrics including employee happiness, wellbeing and engagement, as well as business-critical factors such as productivity, waste and profitability, could (and maybe should) all be factored in as standard measurables against any change project. 

Develop an internal team of change champions 

Organisations that can adapt and more successfully implement change have a far better chance of succeeding – no matter what market forces, the economy or competitors throw their way. 

Developing an internal team of change leaders is therefore a business-critical exercise for most medium to large-scale firms. 

At CML, we help organisations to empower employees from ethnic backgrounds to grow into future change leaders. Our process not only supports the creation of an internal change leadership network, but it also enables businesses to enjoy the benefits of achieving higher levels of diversity and equity within the workforce. 

Learn more about what we do and how we can support you here

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