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How to manage change effectively

To keep their competitive advantages and gain some new ones, companies must change. Nevertheless, statistics show that 70% of transformations haven’t met the required objectives. The most common cause of transformation failure is the lack of effective change management procedure.

What is Change Management?

Change is a term usually representing the implementation of business processes and technology required for the transformation of a company’s activity. Change management is a process consisting of managing the human side of innovations and the development of strategies helping people act, think and feel differently. The main goal of this process is to keep moving towards the expected result and implement change in such a way that it would stay in the company.

Principles of Change Management

Change must have a reason
Let’s say someone asks you to change without giving any reason why the change is necessary. Most probably, you would feel uncomfortable. That is why the basis of Change Management is the skill of explaining to the staff why the company needs the change.
Set a goal
Carefully set goals provide a better understanding of the reason for the ongoing transformations and their final result. They serve as the main factor that unites staff during the process of transformation. There are several goal-setting methods one can use, for example, SMART or OKR.
Global changes start with employees
Employees might react to changes negatively, and this is normal. Quick adaptation to changes depends on competent management of the human side of the transformation process. The more employees accept the change, the closer a company gets to the desired results.

Levels of change

Complex management is quite a difficult task, that is why a lot of transformations do not reach their stated goals. Changes happen on three distinct but closely related levels: the Individual Level, the Project Level and the Enterprise Level. Problems on one of the levels inevitably affect the others, so each level requires its own management strategy.

The Individual Level

To maintain transformations on the individual level, Jeff Hiatt (founder of the international consulting company Prosci) has developed the ADKAR Model. It is based on consecutive actions which are necessary for each individual employee and, as a result, for the entire company. As opposed to many frameworks that make emphasis on the steps of an entire organization, Hiatt claims that organizational transformation is only possible when every staff member is ready for it.
Awareness of the need for change
Desire to participate and support the change
Knowledge on how to act in the new conditions
Ability to implement the new skills and behaviours
Reinforcement of the result to sustain the change

On the individual level it is important to recognize official leaders that carry out the necessary changes using the direct management actions, and key influencers, driving the transformation in a more informal way, using human approach and communicating with the staff.

The Project Level

Usually, the change implementation process is divided into several projects. On this level, transformations are implemented within a certain project, which falls into three stages: preparation, management and reinforcement.
Set a change management strategy and prepare the team responsible for the change implementation.
Develop a step-by-step change implementation and management plan, and begin to carry it out.
Collect and analyze the feedback from the project team members and other employees, and work on your mistakes.
On this and on the next levels of change management, transformation should be based on and brought up by the real requests of the employees. Only this way, a high level of employee awareness and involvement can be achieved.

The Enterprise Level

On this level, transformations are implemented on the scale of the whole organization. Generally, this requires several projects dealing with the majority of departments. Each staff member is aware of their role in the transformation process and knows how to use the achieved knowledge and skills. Change management on the enterprise level is more formalized and structured than on the individual and project levels. It is important to define the values and vision of changes of the entire enterprise and translate this position to the employees and regularly gather and analyze their feedback.

When implementing changes, one should acknowledge that now a unified management strategy is not enough. With the pandemic, many business processes have shifted to the online format, and managers and HR specialists need to develop two different strategies: for the office staff and the remote workers.

How to make change management successful: 5 tips for managers and HR

Create a separate team with a competent leader — they will develop an action plan, coordinate the work of the employees and lead the company throughout the whole transformation process.
Slow transformation is ineffective, as there is a risk of remaining at the same place while losing time and money. It is important to be organized and carefully plan out the work, for example, make a rule of weekly meetings to discuss the processes.
Recognize the employees, who have useful skill sets and are enthusiastic about the changes, and give them an opportunity to be involved in the transformation. This is useful to the process of transformation itself and improves involvement and loyalty of the employees.
Trust the professionals
Act quickly
Involve employees
The easiest way to monitor performance is by using IT tools. Evaluate involvement and performance based on feedback, gathered by those. Thus, you won’t lose the connection with your staff, find the management weak spots and reduce stress on HR departments.
Until the employees get used to the changes, they might be stressed. Managers and HR specialists should become an example for the staff: show confidence and enthusiasm. This requires regular communication with the employees and being prepared to provide answers even to the toughest of questions.
Monitor success
Show leadership skills

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