This is the second half of a two-part series we’re doing on change in the workplace (for reasons that will become clearer later this month). Of course, managing change is a huge topic; entire graduate-level degrees can be obtained on organizational change. We know we’re just scratching the surface with this two-parter, but we hope the info will be helpful and might inspire you to look into larger bodies of knowledge on change.
In Monday’s post, we covered the first two Cs of managing change: Clarity (having a clear vision of why the change is taking place) and Communication (both communicating clearly to the people affected by the change and listening when they communicate to you). Today, we look at the other two, which come into play during the change process.
You’ve heard it said that the only true constant is change. That may be true, but when a major change is taking place in a business, it’s important for you to try to keep as much of the non-changing stuff as consistent as possible. Most people don’t deal terribly well with uncertainty, especially in large doses, so keeping the uncertainty to a minimum is just good leadership.
Now is the time to keep regular office hours, to return emails, to do all the stuff you do as close to how you normally do it as possible. This not only proves that you’re solid and dependable in the face of change, the structure of keeping your regular schedule and habits can also help you manage the stress of change.
In John Kotter’s classic 8-step plan for leading change, the sixth step is “generate short-term wins.” The theory underlying that step is that if people can see evidence that the change works relatively quickly, they’ll be more likely to embrace it. However, it’s important not to try to use the short-term wins as definitive proof that the change process is completely finished and a thorough success; that method can be seen as shutting down honest analysis and discussion of the change. Instead, simply communicate the wins to your people, connect them to the change and let them stand on their own as evidence.
Another tactic of convincing, also snagged from Kotter, is tying the change into the company’s culture. Once the new way of doing things becomes “the way we do things here,” a change has truly taken root. This step must come at the end of the change rather than the beginning, though; uprooting corporate culture before or during a change can have disastrous impacts on morale, loyalty and productivity. To connect the change to your culture, make a point of telling stories about successes the change has brought about and rewarding employees who have used the change to improve the business.
Like we said, this is a very brief sketch of managing change, but we hope it’s been a helpful one. What about you? Have you led a change in your company, or witnessed great (or awful!) change management? Let us know in the comments!