Implementing and managing change
Techniques for implementing and managing change
Understand what change means
Change is the continuous adoption of business strategies and structures in response to changing internal pressures or external forces. Change happens whether we encourage and welcome it or not. To take control of it and to ensure that it is a positive, and not a negative process, businesses must have a vision, a strategy and a proven and adaptable process for managing change.
Today, change in business is not the exception but the rule - it has become an accelerating and ongoing process. 'Business as usual' will become increasingly rare as global, economic and technological upheavals necessitate a business response. Chnage management requires firms to be able to cope with dramatic one-off changes as well as more gradual evolutionary change:
- Evoluntionary or incremental change occurs quite slowly over time. For example, the swing towards more fuel-efficient cars has been unexpected - the decision to increase the London congestion charge was announced months in advance, but a sudden oil price increase may not have been expected. Obviously, incremental changes that are easy to anticipate tend to be easiest to manage.
- Dramatic or revolutionary change, especially if unanticipated, causes many more problems. Civil conflict in Kenya in 2008 forced many safari holiday companies to re-establish themselves in other countries or markets. In extreme cases, these dramatic changes might lead to totally rethinking the operation of an organisation using a 'clean slate'. This is called business process re-engineering.
Understand the stages of the change process
This is a checklist of essential points that managers should consider before attempting to introduce significant changes in an organisation:
- Where are we now and why is change necessary? It is important to recognise why a business needs to intorduce change from the situation it currently finds itself in.
- New vision and objectives. For substantial changes, a new vision for the business may be needed - and this must be communicated to those affected by change.
- Ensure resources are in place to enable change to happen. Starting a change and then finding that there is too little finance to complete it could be disastrous.
- Give maximum warning of the change
- Staff in particular should not be taken by surprise by change - this will increase their resistance to it.
- Involve staff in the plan for change and its implementation. This will encoruage them to accept change and ead to proposals from them to improve the change process.
- Communicate. The vital importnace of communication with the workforce runs through all of these other stages.
- Introduce initial changes that bring quick results. This will help all involved in the change to see the point of it.
- Focus on training. This will allow staff to feel that they are able to make a real contribution to the changed organisation.
- Sell the benefits. Staff and other stakeholders may benefit directly from changes - these need to be explained to them.
- Always remember the effect on individuals. A 'soft…