Change happens so regularly that it has become inevitable. An online poll revealed that around 70% of organisations experience four significant changes in a five-year period. Businesses can prime themselves for success by implementing appropriate change management.
While some constant incremental changes may not cause a massive disruption to the business, transformational change involves huge shifts that radically shake up existing ways of working. To ensure that businesses can adapt in the face of constant change, they need to ensure they are effectively managing that process.
Transformation is a large scale change. It can involve a massive shift in a company structure, business process, its people or organisational workflows. It requires a lot of time and energy to implement such transitions. As a result, change management is required to ensure a successful completion of the transformation.
Adaptive changes, on the other hand, are small changes that companies need to address over time. These are typically minor adjustments and fine tuning that leaders execute on a regular basis. If employees are willing to embrace it, these adaptive changes serve to improve performance and profitability.
When is change management needed?
Change management is needed when a business wishes to alter one or more of its main processes and undergo transformational shifts. The goal of the change is normally to improve effectiveness and performance. Common situations where change management is required include changes to management, culture, technologies, products or services, and during mergers and acquisitions.
A massive overhaul of an executive or management team will require a change management programme. Putting new people in at the top will create some instability and insecurity. Organisations generally become unstable while the new leadership team aligns to a common vision and goal, learning a new role and developing the skills that are needed to perform effectively within the organisation.
A change in leadership can also create insecurity among staff. For some employees being told they’ll get a new boss may come as a relief, but for others it may be daunting to learn how to work with someone new. Teams may be unsure of what is expected of them and feel insecure about their roles.
Change management during cultural realignment
When organisations embark on a culture realignment programme, change management is often required. A cultural realignment intervention normally happens when there is no clear vision, mission or purpose. Each executive may be chasing different goals, such as profits, excellence or customer service. Bringing an executive team together may mean unifying their approach. It can also involve unpacking what their corporate values actually mean in terms of concrete behaviours they wish to see in the environment.
In a toxic work culture, instilling a more aligned culture can mean a radical shift in attitude, interpersonal relationships and working style. It may mean working with people from different departments or adopting a more effective model of communication.
Implementing a change management process can help ensure that employees are invested in the process, understand why it is taking place and take steps to ensure that the desired outcome can be met.
Transforming your business with new technologies
Implementing new technologies which optimise work flows and production can radically shake up an organisation. A new customer management system (CMS), for example, may require all employees to learn new software and implement new processes in their daily operations.
About two thirds of people don’t like to leave their comfort zones and only do so on rare occasions. This means it can be difficult to get employees to change their existing ways of working. It may mean a steep learning curve and initial drop in productivity. There may also be some resistance as employees may not see the benefits of the new tech system.
This is where change management comes in. Through a well planned and structured change management approach, employees are taken along the journey, given the right skills and receive appropriate training.
Change management when introducing new products and services
Companies that wish to introduce a new product or service feature will need to undergo appropriate change management. Launching a new offering requires staff to focus on multiple things at the same time. Employees need to take care of existing products, services and customers. At the same time, the company prepares for and launches its latest product or service.
Going through the innovation cycle necessitates out-of-the-box thinking. It requires a process of prototyping and testing. They may be mistakes and failures along the way that need to be dealt with. Keeping morale and motivation levels high is important. Leaders need to ensure that mistakes become opportunities for learning and growth.
Innovation demands diverse skills. Planning, designing and implementing a new product or service is a multi-step process that needs to be supported through robust change management. Without appropriate support, employees can lose track of the goal, feel overwhelmed and become stressed. Leaders need to have suitable coaching skills to ensure that staff are well-informed, motivated, engaged and have the space to voice their concerns.
Supporting your staff during a merger or acquisition
Change management is needed when companies undergo a merger or acquisition. This is a radical transformation for any business and workers will experience massive change as a result. New premises, new teams, new bosses, new products and services, new software and systems, and new customers are all likely during a merger or acquisition.
Creating a smooth transition will soften the effects of radical change. It can help employees to deal with their resistance and insecurities. Change management support may also include e-learning materials and other job guides that help employees learn about their new roles.
Change management in today’s world
In today’s current economic and socio political climate, unexpected crises have become the norm. Whether it be wars, pandemics or energy crises, organisations need to be flexible and agile in the face of change.
Companies that can adapt and take on a growth mindset are likely to take the lead against their competitors. No matter how changes come about. It always requires people to do their jobs differently. This is the right time to implement change management. For more information about our services, please contact us today.
Can!do works with large enterprises in South Africa to maximise the value of their employees, technology and business processes. To do this, we offer three fundamental services; change management, capability development and performance optimisation.
We have 30 years of experience in these fields and have worked with leading companies in South Africa. We are a certified Level 2 B-BBEE company and a leading provider of new business systems and processes that drive user adoption. For industry insights and news, please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.