If you’re planning organisational change within your business, my first piece of advice to you is don’t do it.
- Don’t do it unless you have investigated all other alternatives
- Don’t do it if it’s an attempt to cost cut to a short-term target
- Don’t do it unless you know it will add value to your busines
- Don’t do it unless you are capable of executing the changes effectively.
Whilst change is the lifeblood of any business, organisational change can cause anxiety and stress to those affected. It often results in a disruption to business as usual and a reduction in service to your customers.
However, if you are absolutely convinced you are doing the right thing by implementing organisational change, there are some key points that will increase your chances of a successful change initiative.
Know where you want to get to and when you want to get there before you commence any activity. Planning the detailed steps of the change journey (how, who, where, what, when, why) is the cornerstone to a successful organisational change program. If you are faced with the choice of delaying the start to spend more time on the plan, delay the start.
Make sure you start off on the right foot by forming a Program Office. Involve people from the full spectrum of your business, so the impact that change in one area might have on another can be fully understood. Ensure that all change activity which is people affecting is within the remit of this group. Give them the authority to deal with issues and challenges as they arise and task them with the responsibility of ensuring the plan is executed successfully.
No matter how clearly you think you have communicated everything, there will be lots of questions. Produce an FAQ before the programme is announced. Be consistent in answers on big-ticket items such as “why are we doing this”. Set up an email address that people can forward questions to and if you have health care support lines brief your healthcare provider on the change activity. Above all else, communicate frequently, honestly, consistently and succinctly throughout the whole period of the program.
If the change plan is your idea, then it is your responsibility. Announcing it and then leaving others to “make it happen” won’t improve the chances of a successful implementation. Maintain a high level of visibility amongst the people affected. Provide clarity and leadership to the Program Office and manage issues and obstacles as they arise in a decisive and proactive manner. Listen to the advice of others, take ownership of the difficult stuff and be the driving force behind the execution of the plan.
Acting quickly and compassionately
The people affected by an organisational change will have their own fears, doubts, hopes and aspirations about how the changes might affect them. That will be (and should be), their number one priority. Never lose sight of the fact that your decision to initiate change can potentially have a massive affect on someone else’s life.
Do the right thing and treat everyone with the respect you would expect for yourself if you were in his or her situation, because one day you might be.