Many business leaders are in the throes of disruptive change.
You know you need to change things in your business to ensure you stay relevant and profitable but the ‘how’ is often not that clear.
We believe ‘every project is a change, and every change is a project’. Keeping this in mind, every change/project needs a process to make it work.
Have you ever seen:
- Projects going over time – problems sticking to the schedule, budget and timelines?
- Managers and supervisors who resist the changes you need to make happen, slowing the project down?
- People who say they are ‘on board’ but ‘white ant’ the process behind the scenes?
- People who won’t engage in the new way of doing things purely because of how badly projects have been done in the past?
These are normal symptoms we see in a changing work environment, but t doesn’t mean it needs to be accepted as ‘how things have to be’. The cost of each of these symptoms is far reaching – to the project, to the business and to the stress levels and wellbeing of employees.
Many leaders tell us that they want to lead change well, but they just aren’t sure what or how to do it in the best possible way.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer or silver bullet.
Every situation and change is different because all change projects involve the ‘people’ dynamic.
However here are 5 guiding principles to help you flourish as a leader in changing times:
- Connect change management to project management
Ensure you take the view that ‘every change is a project and every project is a change.’ This way you will not just focus on the project management side of things but be aware of the need for change management processes to involve your people in what you are doing.
- Resource the change management
Allocate resources (including time, people and budget) to the change management function (people side) just like you would for the project management function. Too often we come across projects that have no allocation for the ‘people’ side of the change. The purpose of the allocation is to help people through the transition, from what was to what will be, so your project is actually completed.
- Find the right Executive Sponsor
Nominate a sponsor of the change who is active and visible – it’s not just about being the person who signs off on the dollars. It’s about talking the change up, engaging other managers to sponsor the change and supporting the resistors. You must have a sponsor from the level of the organisation that has influence in relation to the scope of the project. They should have the authority within the business to make decisions and deal with and eliminate project challenges.
- Get a plan
Develop a change management strategy that focusses on how you are going to incorporate areas such as managing resistance, engaging managers as sponsors, identifying risks, and developing communication plans, training plans etc. Your plan should also include how you will gain feedback from the employees throughout the project so you can adjust the plan accordingly to suit the needs of the people
- Manager and supervisor engagement
Research shows that middle managers (43%) and senior managers and executives (27%) are the most resistant groups when it comes to introducing change within organisation. Frontline employees come in at 25%.
Spend time with your executives, managers and supervisors helping them to understand why you are changing and the risks of not changing. You need to identify what drives their concerns/resistance and give them support and information to work through their challenges.
These people play a huge role in influencing their teams, so start with putting your energy into supporting them first. Once you have them on board, they can then more effectively assist with engaging the staff.
Spending time leading your people and influencing them, so they choose willingly to follow on the change journey is such a good use of your time as a leader.
Take the necessary time and you will see the impact of this on your greatest KPI as a leader – achieving business results.