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Change Management: Best Practices for Successful Implementation

By Laura Dowling, SPHR on Nov 18, 2021
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change management best practices

Under the most ideal circumstances, change can be difficult. Within the context of your small business or organization, the prospect of implementing changes can potentially seem like a major hassle. People are resistant to change. The company is unprepared for an overhaul. Leadership is uncertain whether the risks will ultimately be worth the reward. The word “change” in and of itself can be a daunting one. The thing is … it doesn’t have to be. Change and catastrophe don’t have to go hand in hand. In fact, quite the opposite can be true.

Change management, if done correctly, can facilitate all aspects of any changes a business is looking to make. What are the keys to change management best practices? There are a couple of critical components that should surround any sort of change, those being communication and transparency. The more you keep the lines of communication open with your employees and are transparent about exactly what is happening and when, the less resistance and pushback you will receive as changes are implemented.

what is change management

Change Management Best Practices

While the phrase “change management best practices” may sound a bit jargony, keep in mind, it is well-used for a reason. When followed, these practices ensure the proper steps are taken and the most effective protocol is adhered to. Doing so will mean the difference between change that is problematic and bumpy, and change that is streamlined and seamless.

First off, prior to implementing any change, you need to recognize the need for change and consequently be able to define that change. Be it a large corporation or a small business, those organizations who fail to go into any phase of change without careful self-examination first will likely fail. The greatest chance of successful change implementation starts with a clear understanding of the changes being enacted and why those are needed changes in the first place.

1. Keep it Simple

When change is attended by lengthy, overly complicated processes, employees are going to resist, plain and simple. They already have a docket of work that needs their attention; additional and cumbersome tasks in the name of “change” are not exactly going to be welcomed.

Yes, leadership needs to keep staff informed and involved; some experts argue that the more involved employees are, the more a sense of ownership they will feel in regard to change. However, there is a balance between empowering through involvement and frustrating through obligatory and complicated assignments.

Is there new technology in place to “facilitate” change? If so, how complex is it for someone who may not be a tech expert to learn? Take a big picture view, is this a burden for employees?

Pay attention to morale when introducing new processes in the name of change management. In having to document the effectiveness of a specific change, for example, are they being asked to learn a completely new and unfamiliar system? If you implement new technology, keep it simple and something that everyone has the potential to master quickly.

Automation is also a key component of streamlining change and decreasing any burden on employees. Integrating intuitive and automated processes will without question help achieve more favorable results.

2. Assign Leaders

People tend to respond better when given a certain amount of power; in turn, they will often use their power to influence their peers. What does this mean in terms of change management best practices? If just a select few members of the company leadership are the only ones actively engaged in the management of change, you run the risk of employees becoming apathetic and eventually resistant. This is where the employee involvement factor comes into play. Again though, you want to be sure and walk that line between empowering and overwhelming (refer back to number one).

By assigning leaders and tasking those leaders with helping to engage other employees, you empower and create another layer of protection against major problems that changes could bring about. The people chosen to help lead the company through change strive to relay to employees where it is that everyone fits in, and they should always be communicating on relevant issues. This brings us to…

3. Master the Art of Communication

Any change management expert will tell you that communication is key if change is to be implemented successfully. Keeping those lines open, soliciting, and listening to employee feedback, having in-depth conversations about how the change is going are critical to successful overall implementation.

You want to communicate promptly regarding various phases of the change. You want to be honest and transparent in your communication. You want to continuously highlight the benefits of the changes taking place. And you do not want to conceal things from your employees as this will create an aura of distrust.

That said, you also don’t want to inundate employees with information that doesn’t necessarily pertain to them. Be open and forthcoming and give them the facts relevant to their roles. Address (among some other questions) the following:

  • How will change impact their responsibilities?
  • Will they be required to learn new skills?
  • Is their job going to be safe over the long term?

Will you be introducing new team members? New technology? New processes in general?

4. Strive to Inspire

Change management in many ways really is all about leading by example. Therefore, as the company’s leader, you need to show your team that you embrace the changes and are committed to making them long-lasting, sustainable changes. You could also recruit key employees to do the same. You might call them “change cheerleaders,” those who exhibit excitement about what’s been implemented, subsequently inspiring others in the company to follow suit.

Axcet HR Solutions: Helping Kansas City Based Businesses Embrace Change

If your small business is about to undergo organizational changes and you need assistance with some of the components of this change as far as HR, payroll, and employee management, we would be happy to consult with you. Call us today!

Contact Axcet HR Solutions

Written by Laura Dowling, SPHR

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