More than ever before, change is becoming a normal part of the business landscape. In fact perhaps the one element of business that isn’t changing, is the amount of change that is happening. And that presents some special change management challenges for most business leaders.
Over the last few years, with the dramatic changes in the financial world and the ever speeding of worldwide communications, change management has become an artform all the more challenging.
New business environments are facing change like never before and because of this accelerated pace, change management faces some new challenges as a process in itself. Here are five specific to the ‘new world’, where the only thing that stays steady is the rate of change of the pace of change:
1. Keeping Their Trust
With each change in the workplace following hot on the heels of the last change, it is unsurprising that employees are feeling punch drunk as each blow hits home. ‘This place isn’t like what it once was’, will be the plaintiff cry heard in workplaces across the world.
Historically change happened gradually – if at all – and even just a few short years ago, any change was greeted as an event; a novelty and the inherent values of an organisation still showed through.
Not any more. And those leading change have to work far, far harder to ensure that they are seen to be the trusted organisation they always were.
For managers implementing change, the position they are in (commonly known as between ‘a rock and a hard place’) has meant that they have had to deliver change to their people, whilst also ensuring that they personally retained good relationships with their people, often built up over many years.
The solution to this is that investment in the trusting relationships they build over time will go along way to insulate them from the bad feeling that comes when changes are implemented, however often they happen. The key action for managers to take, is to spend as much time as possible of the office and with their people, listening to them and valuing them, as early as they can, so that the strong trust is in place before you need it.
2. Being Fully Honest
When changes are being made, managers will find there is a conflict between being open and honest with their people. This can cause a challenge because as they have been able to build trusting relationships, openness and honesty have been one of the foundations.
For a manager suddenly to become much more careful about what they say, can lead to suspicion and short-term reduction in the trust their people have in them.
The way to resolve this is two-fold. By building a series of relationships with employees that, over time has been tested and shown to be robustly trustworthy, a manager will be able to use that to help when they can’t be quite as open as they might be in different times.
The second issue is to be open and honest about what they can and cannot be open about! This statement of reality will show their employees that they really are sticking with the principles already embedded in the relationship – that of honesty and openness in the communication between them.
3. Creating a ‘Constant Change’ Environment
How would it be if there were no surprises and changes came and went with excitement and fun? That takes control back and makes people feel better too. This requires a change in mindset to encourage – even proactively stimulate – change in lives and in business too.
Where change is challenging is where we simply don’t have the skill to appreciate what opportunities change creates.
By looking for change constantly, managers – and, very importantly, their teams – set the ladder against a different wall and when change still gets applied outside their control, they are far more able to see the possibilities – and less likely to dwell on any downsides.
4. Maintaining Morale
In a change ridden world, people feel battered by the effects and this can strike at the very heart of how they are feeling. In any business, it leaves a sense of uncontrolled ‘done to’ rather than being a part. By getting people engaged with change and having an integral say in the ‘how’ of the ‘what’ needs to be done, creativity and engagement flows.
The best managers see their employees as a resource in change situations – even more in this new age where past conventions of ‘;caring for our people’, are being thrown out of the door.
For many employees, this is such a shift in what they are used to that they fail to see the way forward – so letting them be a fully signed-up part of that way is a perfect tactic to maintain and even max out their morale and motivation.
The question is, as a manager, will you be prepared to get out of your own way and let that happen?
5. Bringing Good People In
Incredibly, changing workplaces generate new opportunities for managers, not least in the arena of recruitment. It’s a little sad to say so, but in many situations, managers have been left with a less than fully-formed team.
So when changes to personnel happen, it’s critical that this clear-out is used as an opportunity to bring in the right people next time. For this, many managers will have to shape up in their recruitment skills or they will simply replace like-with-like and make no progress. Indeed, because of the churn time it takes for people to settle in, there could be a significant decrease in performance over a protracted period.
Recruit effectively from the burgeoning pool out there. Review where it didn’t work out in the past and grab this opportunity for change, to build a sharper, more dynamic – more demanding of you even – team for the future.
Change provides opportunity, if you let it happen. And it’s more than that. Finding the courage and strength to be dynamic and creative in turbulent business times can shape careers – in both ways. Effective managers have the capacity to stand back and change themselves too.
And this is for the benefit of all.