Change is a natural cycle in every organisation. Often, there’s nothing you can do to avoid it, but there’s a lot you can do to ensure you’re prepared. By putting yourself and your teams in control of the change process, you’ll avoid being swept away by the current.
However, the ability to manage change and drive your company in a particular direction requires a set of skills. Every business, and subsequently every employee, has the ability to develop these skills; this enables the business to be agile when confronted with change, whether that be chosen or not.
In this article, we’ll look at why change management is so important and how you can build the skills needed to do it effectively.
What is change management?
Change management is a systematic approach to changes within tech, process, company values, and organisational goals or realities.
Maybe you want to shift to a new range of products, focus on a different demographic, adopt a new style of marketing, or something else entirely. With the right change management strategy, you can ensure you make this change in a confident, focused, and successful way.
Why is change management important?
The world around us is constantly changing; many businesses risk getting left behind if unable to manage these shifts. Nurturing change management skills allows organisations to embrace and take control of the process, assuring you can:
Anticipate the need for change and prepare in advance.
Unite your teams around the need for change and build a cohesive, coordinated effort.
Use money and resources more efficiently.
Reduce the time needed to implement change.
Despite the importance of change management, many companies struggle to implement it successfully.
“In fact, 70% of change management attempts fail.”
Often, this is because organisations fail to address potential risks, poorly map-out strategy and implementation, and don’t value key change management skills in their employees. In the rest of this article, we’ll introduce those skills and show you how to develop them.
Key change management skills and how to develop them
Effective change management starts from the top. If your leadership is lacking, this will filter down the entire organisation and jeopardise your ability to drive change. Change management leaders need to be organised and strong communicators, ensuring everyone on the team is united and clearly understands the need for change.
Skills will likely include:
Strong communication to bring everyone together and clearly convey the need for change
The ability to inspire others to follow your vision
The best leaders have a clear vision that they’re able to share with everyone in the organisation and build ongoing support for.
It doesn’t matter how good your leaders are; if you don’t have a solid strategy for change management, you’ll find it very difficult to succeed. A good strategy is the result of extensive research and preparation, identifying bumps in the hypothetical road and laying out a clear and confident plan to make that change happen.
Like leadership, excelling at strategy requires a number of different skills, like:
The ability to think and act logically
An understanding of how to develop a clear plan
The ability to constantly learn
Adaptability — can you change course quickly in response to new evidence?
Change management is a complex endeavour with lots of moving parts and challenges. If you fail to develop an effective strategy, you risk getting blown off course, confusing your teams, and falling into many of the traps that inevitably spring up when you try to make change happen on a meaningful scale.
Change management is a team effort, which means communication and collaboration are essential parts of the process. Everyone in the company needs to understand why change is needed, what is involved, and their own personal roles to play in that process.
To do this effectively, it can help to create messaging that clearly outlines the reasons for change and how it will benefit everyone, and share this within the company. Also, take a proactive role in communication with your teams — don’t wait for them to come to you, but reach out regularly to ensure everyone is aligned and to address any concerns or areas of confusion they might have.
4) Project management
Change management projects can vary in size depending on the implementation of softer or harder changes. Despite this, the value placed on project management skills remains the same. Project management in this context encompasses a range of important duties and skills, such as:
Defining your goals
Outlining a clear strategy to reach those goals
Putting the right teams together
Understanding what resources are needed and obtaining them
Measuring progress effectively over time
In some cases, organisations may already have an in-house PMO that exercises control over the above considerations. In some ways, this can make change, which is destined to be constant, easier to manage over a long period of time. All in all, it’s all about bringing the various steps together in a coherent way that allows you to reach your change management goal as smoothly as possible.
Take an analytical approach
Change management isn’t just about people skills — there’s an analytical component, and it’s essential to get it right. Defining hard metrics based on your goals, measuring them, and analysing how you can improve those metrics through your change management can have lots of powerful benefits.
For one, it can make it easier to get buy-in from across the company. If you can clearly show how your change management project will improve metrics in a concrete, measurable way, this can make for a much more persuasive case than simply saying what you think (or hope) will happen.
Being more analytical can also make it easier to measure and communicate change, helping course-correct your change management attempts and avoid wasting too much time on ineffective efforts.
Work with a consultant
A good consultant, or team of consultants, can make a big difference when it comes to change management. Look for a team of experts with experience driving successful change in your industry and with similar goals.
At Freshminds, we connect experienced and talented consultants with businesses of all shapes and sizes. Contact us to find out how we can help you make contact with a consultant to drive your change project forward.