manage change by focusing on people

Introducing new methods, policies or practices into an organization often revolves around productivity and profit. And no matter how well you plan, adopting new thinking and new processes can be difficult and stressful. Especially due to the most common obstacle – people’s resistance to change. Because in truth, managing change is about people and integrity.

That is normal though. Change itself is a process that can be hard because it affects people professionally and personally. So the sooner you begin to plan and manage change, the more likely it will be successful.

Even though there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ recipe for success, there are certain things you can do to prepare for the upcoming change management journey.

People and Change Management

Managing the hard side of change – processes, tools, goals, financials, etc. does little to no good if you leave the people behind. Managing the soft side of change, getting people on board and participating in the change is what makes the difference. And change management is concerned with that – the people side of change.

Change management is the collection of the process, tools, and techniques used to manage the people side of change, aimed at achieving favorable business outcomes. It involves the systematic management of employee engagement, and adoption of the new processes, tools, policies of how work will be done. The main focus of change management is helping employees embrace, adopt, and utilize a change in their daily work.

Managing Change

The most important things when managing change are preparation and having a clear change management plan. This plan should account for governance, communication, training, and ongoing support. The plan should be realistic, actionable and flexible.

A successful change management process should begin with the introduction and presentation of the upcoming changes. Everyone in the organization should be aware of the adjustments before the process starts. The changes should be gradually implemented by skilled change agents and trusted stakeholders throughout the organization.

Designate change representatives and ambassadors at every level. Make sure there is a strong support network that will deal with foreseeable issues and questions. Understand that change management is not just a communications meeting or training. There must always be clear and open communication flow between all employees and stakeholders through the process duration.

Successful change management follows a structured process and uses a set of carefully selected tools to drive change. And at the same time, the process should be flexible enough to support course correction.

manage change by focusing on people

Reinforcing Change

The change train can be a bumpy ride. And if you want to lead it, you must lead it by example. Additionally, you might need to provide training to your employees and facilitating learning to help them develop people from within. Emotional maturity, compassion, and integrity are far more important than memorizing corporate slogans. Keep in mind that organizational successes and failures are rarely based around process and skills.

That is why you must encourage employees to learn and develop. Give them choices and let them grow in their own ways. Along with some constructive criticism and positive feedback, they’ll find it easier to acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and develop the skills necessary and abilities. As a result, they will embrace the changes and adapt to the situation more willingly.

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Dealing with Resistance to Change

People are usually creatures of habit thus, inherently adverse to change. Even those who don’t fear change and are in charge of leading it, don’t always like change. A big part of ensuring a successful change is finding ways to deal with resistance in a positive way. People will resist to change and try to keep their old way. And that’s something you can’t ignore.

As a part of your plan, you must prepare a toolset for working with people that resist change and instigate even more resistance. Instead of pointing fingers, identify the individuals or groups that don’t want to accept the change, and present them with a work plan that explains the changes in their workflow. Try to have a constructive discussion, listen to their point of view, and try to understand why they don’t want to accept the new situation and find a mutually acceptable solution.

Monitor Changes and Track Results

Implementing new requirements and processes and dealing with resistance is tough. But you must ensure the new processes and policies are being followed and respected. You need to make sure that change has stuck. That can be done by talking to people, monitoring the process, sending test-requests or exploring the documentation.

Analytical data will give you a clear insight into what the teams are working on through the day. Have a weekly comparison of how the change is progressing. This will allow you to take the necessary corrective actions and ensure not only the hard side of changes is on track, but also that people are accepting and embracing the changes.

Change Takes Time

Most people dread the reality that change may not stick the first time. But don’t be afraid to adapt to the situation by tweaking the processes, policies, or players involved. Every organization and culture are different, and managing change should be flexible to best suit the organization and the type of change. Never give up the first time around. Discuss the successes and analyze what went wrong. And learn from the situation.

Remember that change takes time and people are the key factor for its success. Your people are your most valuable asset. Devote resources and focus on developing your people – not only during times of change, but all the time.

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About the Author: Ivana Sarandeska

Ivana Sarandeska is a digital marketer, creative writer and master procrastinator. An Agile enthusiast and a firm believer that thorough planning is key to good execution and even better improvisation. She has a soft spot for technology, so most of her full-time jobs were in IT companies where she was introduced to Agile and Scrum. After she got her Scrum Basics certification she started actively using these methodologies and their main principles. Learning how to organize her time and tasks better has motivated her to dive deeper into these methodologies. Now, she is an avid advocate of Agile and Scrum and happily shares her knowledge and experience to fellow procrastinators.