5 Factors to Consider When Implementing Change

Change is constant in life, yet it can still cause apprehension, friction, and negative emotions to rear their ugly heads. When something changes in the workplace, it can elicit these same feelings in employees and lead to the experience of stress. Resilience is the ability to handle stress and deal with change effectively, which can be developed through resilience training as well as courses in change management.

Change management courses can help employees deal with change in a more effective way, decreasing the amount of stress experienced when changes are implemented in the workplace. However, even with change management training, Melbourne business owners should be aware of these 5 factors that can impact the response your employees have to change.

Control

Your employees take pride in the control they have over their tasks and operations in the workplace. Changes that can be perceived as negative by employees include diminishing the amount of control they have, such as hiring a supervisor that micro-manages them constantly. The more control an employee feels they have, the more challenges they will be able to handle without excessive stress.

Predictability

Simply knowing what is to come next can decrease stress and allow employees to take changes in stride. This is known as ‘perceived control’ and can be a much more effective way of implementing change. By letting your employees know what is going to happen, they can feel more in control than they would if they remain unaware of what changes are taking place.

Understanding

Making changes without explaining the reason behind the change can negatively impact employees and alter their response. Explaining why the change is occurring allows professionals to make sense of the situation and therefore understand it better – another example of perceived control. With no explanation, employees can feel helpless and experience anxiety or stress.

Time Frame

Sudden changes may seem like a good idea at first, but they can have a lot of drawbacks when it comes to the response to these changes that employees have. The time frame between announcing a change and implementing the change is crucial, as employees should have adequate time to prepare for the change to come in order to avoid increasing the stress they experience.

Relationships

The relationship that employees have with co-workers and supervisors also plays a role in enforcing change in the workplace. Employees that feel as though they are heard, respected, and valued are more comfortable asking for information and voicing any concerns they have about the company. Having a good relationship with supervisors as well as other employees reduces stress and fosters resilience.

With these factors in mind, you can make changes that are seen in a more positive light by employees and decrease the stress that employees may experience. Change management courses can also improve response to changes, leading to a better work environment and increased focus when completing tasks. Change management training for Melbourne businesses enhances employees’ resilience and increases satisfaction in their workplace.

Change Management In Projects – 10 Success Factors

According to change guru Peter Senge (1999), most change initiatives fail simply because they fail to produce hoped-for results. Given that project management is all about changing the status quo, effective change management is critical to project success.

Whether this is the latest ‘flavour of the month’ programs that senior management rolls out, implementation of an IT system or an internally-driven team initiative, it is important that the change and expectations are effectively managed.

Current thinking indicates that good managers are the key to successful change management. In general, managers who see the need for change are usually correct in their assessment. Senge (1999) says: “companies that fail to sustain significant change end up facing crises. By then their options are greatly reduced.”

It can be quite difficult for managers to view their work on change in a holistic fashion. Personal attitudes and political agendas can lead to bias towards HR issues or IT issues specifically preventing the big picture focus.

Based on this I have constructed 10 success factors to help project managers manage change in small projects or large organisations:

Factor 1 – Plan first

Take time to understand the central need for change. Know what you are trying to do and why. Think about the links of the change to real-life problems and create a vision of what it will look like when those problems are resolved.

Factor 2 – Involve the Team

Create opportunities – especially in the early stages – to discuss change with the team. This will not only create enthusiasm for change but also be a source of ideas for improved processes and ways of communicating to others. Negotiation will be easier if the team is on board from the start.

Factor 3 – Support the Team

Introduce the change clearly to the team. Explain the current performance level and why the change is needed, what it will involve and the objectives. Reassure staff throughout the change process – particularly around issues of changing roles.

Factor 4 – Lead by Example

Showing your own commitment to the change will act as a signpost for others in the team to also commit. Make your commitment evident in the decisions you make.

Factor 5 – Put Yourself in the Team’s Shoes

Try to anticipate what will be the key issues that concern team members. Plan how you can best deal with them should they arise. Concerns will most often be about changed ways of working, new reporting structures, changes to job roles and services and unfamiliar systems or tools.

Factor 6 – Manage Resistance with Compassion

Resistance to change may be frustrating but it is a natural human reaction. Team members might resist change if they think that job security, the way the work, or work patterns will change. Managers need to source, analyse acknowledge, respond to and deal with staff concerns throughout the change process.

Factor 7 – Communication is Essential

Tailor your communication to the audience and their needs. Make it frequent and use different methods tailored to different preferences and accessibility. Methods might include one-on-one briefings, workshops, formal training programmes, advertising, briefing papers, blogs, RSS-feeds, e-mail and intranet postings.

Factor 8 – Review and Evaluate

Review and evaluation throughout the change process is vital. Continually check objectives and achievement against them. Celebrate ongoing success with the team and identify where you can improve.

Factor 9 – Know What You’re Up Against

Change fails most often due to lack of understanding of the need for change, setting unrealistic goals, poor planning, and insufficient communication. Failure to properly manage change leads to problems with trust in change in the future.

Factor 10 – Don’t Forget PM Tools

Great project managers use good tools to achieve outcomes. Tools such as SWOT, Gantt charts, Risk Assessment, Communications Planning and a realistic schedule will be useful in planning and delivering the smooth transition to success.

The Upshot

Change is all around us, and is happening every day. To some, this is exciting; they find it thrilling to be part of the action and to keep up with trends. But, to others, it can be threatening or even frightening.

As greater focus is placed on achieving business success and as projects are becoming more complex, project managers need to adopt the principles of change management in order to deliver the desired outcomes. If done right, change can be a force for ongoing innovation, growth and success. Implementing the right factors to manage change successfully gives teams and organisations new skills that set them up to be change ready in the future.