- 7 December 2022
- Posted by: M-author
- Category: Workplace
A New Year is the prime time for organisations to start afresh, working towards goals that improve efficiency, performance and profitability. However, many employees are resistant to adopting new systems, processes and behaviours. If your business needs to take a different path in 2023, how can you develop the mindset for change?
The current economic and political situation is impacting business. To ride the storm and remain both relevant and competitive to customers, some degree of change is inevitable. The start of a new year is an optimum time to present the case for change, but how do ensure the team is on side?
In some cases, change may have a minimal impact on how people work; you might invest in technology that automates a process. However, if you want to shift the business in a new direction to deliver long-term competitiveness and sustainability or open up new market opportunities, company-wide change is necessary.
Achieving this takes time and requires the leadership team to be clear about its vision. It means clarity on the purpose of change and the benefits it will bring to the employees and customers. It also requires seeing this proposition from the employees’ perspectives and understanding what will shift their mindset.
The Right State of Mind
If you have big plans for the New Year, the first step is to help your team to get into a positive state of mind. They need the opportunity to recharge over the Christmas break.
Achieving this takes planning:
Avoid last-minute deadlines – Inform your customers, partners and other relevant parties about the last date for placing orders or processing documentation, as well as your office closing dates. If items have to be shipped before Christmas be aware of Royal Mail strikes and bring the last date forward.
Manage workloads – Ask employees about their December workload and what help they need to get it completed. Reassigning roles or outsourcing to freelancers could help avoid stress.
Set a president – Let your employees know that no one should send or respond to work emails or calls on their days off. Ask them to set up Out of Office and update the company website. This is a time to unplug and focus on other aspects of life and it applies to senior management too.
Recognise achievements – Reflect on the successes of the year and the resilience of employees and openly offer recognition of these achievements. As a reward, you might offer everyone an extra half day off in December. This might enable employees to get ahead with Christmas shopping, watch their child’s nativity, visit a relative or enjoy a lie-in.
How to Announce Change
When everyone returns in the new year, invite them to a meeting where the proposed changes will be announced. There should be a focus on the end goal, why change is necessary and, critically, the direct benefits to employees.
As outlined in Mckinsey’s Psychology of Change Management* report, people are the critical factor when it comes to the successful implementation of change. They will have an emotional response to the announcement and you want to make this as positive as possible. They will have fears about change and what that means to their job security, their career development and their competencies. Providing genuine reassurance about the reasoning and outcomes, along with trust in the leadership team are critical.
In short, they have to agree with your reasons for change, it must tie in with their priorities and they must have the opportunity to be involved in the process to bring them on side. They also need to feel confident that they have (or can develop) the necessary skills and see it as a whole team effort.
3 C’s of Communication
Jenifer Gianni has cited communication as critical in change management. Her 3 C’s are that communication must be:
Clear – ditch the management jargon and speak openly about what needs to change and what it entails.
Compelling – explain why it needs to change in ways which are relevant and important to the employees – what makes it meaningful to them?
Credible – ensure the message is consistent across the whole organisation; they need to see that everyone has a role to play and that their efforts will make a valid contribution.
Jennifer Gianni goes on to explain 6 reasons why change management initiatives fail**, which makes for insightful reading.
Allow Time for Reflection
Has the management team been researching, discussing and developing the plan for some time? It’s likely, so it is only fair to give your team time to reflect on the information shared. Schedule a follow-up meeting focused on listening to ideas and answering questions before any further action is taken. You need their involvement and you want to avoid them feeling that this is something that has been dumped on them.
How to Implement Change
The best way to implement change is to allocate responsibilities based on the strengths of your team. Empower each individual to take action, make decisions, resolve issues and experiment with ideas or options.
Encourage employees to share things that work for them. This positive reinforcement of new skills and behaviours encourages movement towards the goal. It also shows that they are all playing a role in the change and it isn’t all driven from above.
Ensure that all leaders are modelling the desired attitude and actions. However, The Mickinsey report* highlights that they may not be the most influential role model for all employees. Who else are they looking to that may encourage or discourage the adoption of change?
Accept that there will be issues. Have measures in place, including accessible resources, training and mentoring, to promptly rectify problems, reassure and upskill the team.
Finally, remain focused on the objectives. Not everything will go to plan, but don’t get caught up in the detail; a different approach may lead to the desired path.
Change Management for the New Year
Organisation-wide change is hard to achieve, yet it is necessary for long-term business success. By focusing on the people and addressing their needs, it is possible to develop a positive mindset that builds change readiness. This will increase the chance of achieving business outcomes in 2023.