5 Practical Ways to Manage Change
It’s becoming clichéd to say that change is a constant, but it’s true, and the evidence certainly suggests that the pace of change is accelerating, and the extent of change is increasing.
History is littered with the casualties of change—those organisations that failed to see oncoming change and disruptions to their industry—those might corporations that have fallen because they became complacent. With hindsight, Kodak should have been more prepared for the digital era, Nokia should have maintained its early R&D into smartphones and the taxi industry should have worked harder to provide a better service so that there wasn’t such a need for uber’s disruption. Without hindsight though, there are a number of things that you can do in your workplace to improve your ability to manage change.
- Envisage new possibilities. Some will love this part, others not so much. We never know what change is going to happen (unless you have some pretty awesome predictive powers that the rest of us lack), so the best way to prepare for change is to imagine as many possibilities as possible. Stretch you thinking by imagining a variety of different scenarios and what they may mean for you, your team, and your organisation.
- Make incremental improvements. While dreaming up possibilities will be fun for some, you do need to take action too. So, look at the things that are holding you back. What are some of the habits and processes that you could do without? How could you streamline your work-day? As you chip away at your old restricting habits, you make room for new improved habits and processes.
- Recognise where you are in the process. Charles Handy’s s igmoid curve is a fantastic model for understanding change. Often we wait until a crisis point before we make change, unfortunately when we do that, we find that motivation and resources have already plummeted and the process of making the change is so much harder; instead, it is better to change as you are still growing when business is good. Imagine how different the taxi industry could be if they had been proactive and developed their own technology to shape their service offering rather than waiting until their livelihoods were threatened.
- Feedback and refine. As you make changes, measure them. Have they been positive? Why? Why not? What would make the change even better? You aren’t likely to get every change 100% right every time. That’s not a reason to give up, it is a reason to keep trying and striving to make improvements and continue learning along the way.
- Explain and give agency. This is critical. People are far more receptive to change if they understand the reason for the change and if they have input into the change process. Change can’t be something that is purely top down, or bottom up; it must involve all levels. Senior levels need to back the change, junior levels need to feel involved and have input into their roles. When people have power, or agency, over their own work, they will be far more receptive to the change—and you never know, they may even be the source of the best ideas when you give them a chance to share.
Change is complex, but it doesn’t need to be an uncomfortable process. With adequate support, the process can be fun and exhilarating. If you are going through a change process now (and really, who isn’t) and want more tips for facilitating that change, get in contact with me now, and I’ll gladly help you further.