“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress” – Charles Kettering
In today’s dynamic and competitive world, change has become a crucial component of business. It can be in the form of change in business goals, change in organizational structure, change in technology and processes, or change in culture and attitudes. When Helm CONNECT is first introduced to our new customers, it brings change in their organizational and process system. While our implementation specialists ensure smooth transition within your organization, it also becomes the responsibility of the respective change managers within that organization to lead smooth transformation.
Our Implementation specialist, Owen Duckett, spoke at Helm Conference, our annual user conference, about 6 secrets to ensuring exceptional change. Here are his suggestions to make your organization successful.
Secret 1: Measure and track
It is very important to measure the current standing of a department or organization and where it wants to be after successful change has been implemented. Measurement of goals ensure effectiveness of change. It is crucial to measure a few key metrics instead of going after a long list of activities. Once the key metrics are defined and measured, the next step is to incessantly track these metrics. Tracking should be done not only during the change process but before the start of the process and even after it finishes to make sure the change sticks.
Secret 2: Change vital behaviors
The second secret to leading exceptional change is to identify the “vital moments” which initiate a change in the direction of workflow and will vastly impact the final outcome. It is equally important to identify and set the “critical behaviors”, the actions taken in vital moments, that build the final outcome. While vital moments define the situation for change, critical behaviors impact the course of an individual’s work. These are what need to be changed.
The change manager must lead the change process from the front which means not only showing his/her team how to accept change but also understanding emotional and morale stage of his/her team members during the entire change process. According to Kubler-Ross Change Curve, people go through seven stages of emotions during the change process: Shock, Denial, Frustration, Depression, Experience, Decision and Integration. A change manager must be vigilant of these stages and must wait for the right stage to enforce changes. Generally, the phase between depression and experience is the right stage for introducing change and getting individuals more involved in the process. Every individual goes through these phases at their own pace. While some are early adopters of change, others can be stubborn resisters, but there is a big pack of individuals which are in the middle. The change manager should focus on early adopters and use them as leverage to drive change. The early adopters will give proof of concept to the majority in the middle. The pressure of majority adopting change will make the resisters accept change as well.
Secret 4: Control, connections and character
Most people are resistant to change because it tends to threaten either their control, in the form of authority, routine and autonomy, their connections, in the form of relationships, professional networks and community, or their character, in the form of credibility, reputation and confidence. Threat to control, connections and character causes stress for those affected by the change. To relieve stress the change manager should offer people alternative ways to maintain their control, connections and character. If change is impacting an individual’s routine and predictability, change manager should provide him with a new structure and milestones that they can rely on; if the impact is to an individual’s confidence, he should be given proper reassurance, coaching and praise; when change impacts someone’s skills and ability to do their job they need training and knowledge to meet that new need, sometimes through external resources.
Step 5: Give feedback
Feedback is a pivotal part of the change process. Effective feedback lets the team know if things are being done right and lets them know what “right” is. Effective feedback is frequent, is a conversation, is based on results of actions, targets vital behavior and most importantly focuses on change metrics. The change manager should give positive feedback to his team members more often which will keep them motivated for the change process. If there is any critical feedback, it should be provided as soon as possible.
Step 6: Change is a one-way street
If the decision to go through the change process has been made, it is important to go through the process the whole way. Stopping half way through the process or going back to the “normal” because of resistance to change will not only lead to failure in meeting objectives but will be detrimental to any future change processes. Resistance is a normal part of change and needs to be managed, and this can be done by effective communication, giving right support to individuals and providing different ways to help individuals maintain their control, connections and character.
Change leaders have a big responsibility on their shoulders to ensure smooth and effective transition. These six secrets play a vital role in ensuring successful and exceptional change.