No organization can improve until leadership admits there is a problem. — Ron Hequet
There comes a time in the life of an organization when change is inevitable. Fueled by growth, decline, or stagnation, organizational reshaping must occur to move the company forward.
It has been my experience that change management initiatives have many common roots. Money is tight, morale is usually low, and good employees have started looking for other jobs. Non-productive staffers stop making eye contact. Others start playing the blame game.
“If we hadn’t expanded…, if somebody would make those guys in the warehouse work…, if we had better salespeople…, if we had new software…, if I had a bigger budget…”
If!… if!… if!
No organization can improve until leadership admits that a problem exists. Once that happens, the healing begins. During change management, companies work to maximize the effectiveness of their employees by redirecting resources and improving business processes.
Here are my top four recommendations that can lock down a positive redirection for any company. Using these as a framework, management can know what to expect, how to manage their own personal change, and how to engage the entire organization in the process.
1. Clearly Communicate the Message.
Do not assume that others understand and see the company’s new direction as clearly as you do. Effective change programs reinforce core objectives through regular and timely communication that is both motivating and practical.
2. Help Put Employees At Ease.
When change occurs, you can expect employees to feel uncertain and wonder if their jobs are secure. However, change management does not always lead to staff reduction. Instead, redirection often occurs. Job responsibilities shift and employees must develop new skills and abilities. Personally, I have never recommended firing an employee unless I, along with senior management, am sure that the employee is detrimental to, unable to, or unwilling to contribute to the change program plan.
3. Ensure Management Team Commitment.
There can be no “sacred cows” in managing change. Therefore, it remains imperative that the organization’s leaders show strong support of the new initiatives and model the desired behaviors. Management teams that work well together position the company and themselves for success. If the company has the right talent on board and the product or service has marketability, you can still make the company very profitable with the right profit plan.
4. Plug the Leaks in the Bucket.
Many companies experiencing change management have not paid attention to critical leaks that harm profitability, products, and service. Operational basics like inventory control, cash flow planning, productivity accountability, and asset and debt management remain significant at all times, and not just during times of change.
Successful change management involves more than a one-time implementation. It requires a continual review to measure its effectiveness. This ensures change leaders make the necessary adjustments to maintain momentum and drive results.
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