Change is often necessary for growth and at the same time it has the potential to be scary and confusing to employees. For leaders, leading the change management process for your initiatives or navigating your team through organizational initiatives, typically falls under other duties as assigned. We’ve all been there and we are often too close to the work or too far from the work to do a top-notch job with change management. Knowing this, we want to share with you a few things you definitely shouldn’t do when you are leading change.
Don’t make changes to a department without anyone from that department present.
The best way to make an effective change is by asking the people who are closest to the work to weigh in. Leaders can tend to overcomplicate things and come up with solutions that may cost more in the long run because they don’t fully understand what the employees within a department need to do their jobs most efficiently. By involving the people who actually do the work, a leader can gain insight as to what happens throughout other areas of the company that impacts the work of that particular department. That can lead to easier and more cost effective changes.
Don’t rely on internal communications to get your employee buy-in.
If you want to create awareness of or excitement for a change effort, then internal communications is the way to go. But don’t expect it to do much more than that—especially if you haven’t done a good job with stakeholder management. Make sure you understand and are able to effectively communicate the impact of the change to the stakeholders and get their buy-in BEFORE you start pushing internal communications to all employees. Otherwise, people may get anxious or concerned, which adds to the stress of the organization. Which leads us to…
Don’t underestimate the value of stakeholder management.
You must have a strong understanding of the individuals and the groups that will be most affected by your change. Don’t simply make assumptions about what goes on in their business. Spend the time necessary to go talk to those people and build relationships—these are the people who can pump the brakes on your initiative. Getting their feedback on your proposed change can help you avoid landmines down the road and, when you are ready to implement the change, these key players will be in your corner instead of working against you.
Don’t forget to navigate the transition.
We’ve all heard of what’s in it for me, but another question that comes with change management is what changes for me—so mind the delta. You need to have a solid understanding of today versus tomorrow by role or job type and articulate that to employees. By conducting a role impact analysis that tells employees what job responsibilities they will start, stop, and continue goes a long way in alleviating fear. It also shows that you’ve done your home work, studied their process, hopefully included someone from their group prior to defining changes.
Don’t leave out the ‘why.’
You can’t just announce a change without explaining why that change is necessary. Make sure you present a compelling argument and strong articulation of why the change is needed—your case or catalyst for change. Typically, that reason should include both aspiration and inspiration and have a direct impact on the business. You want to give people something to aspire to gives them a reason to navigate their way through the change, while also giving them a reason that speaks to something they care about. When well crafted, these reasons can be used as a campaign throughout the entire change effort.
As you can tell, a lot of the don’ts are interconnected, which is why effectively managing change in your organization or team is hard and nuanced. If you look out for the five pitfalls you are well on your way to successfully navigating your team or organization through the process.