Last week we looked at some common myths surrounding change management that have the potential to derail the change effort. Organizational change often reminds me of the movie Jumanji that involves a supernatural boardgame that brings its jungle world to life and puts the actual players in jeopardy of being maimed, or perhaps worse yet, caught in the drama forever. Sound familiar? It’s a jungle out there, and if you want to avoid drama that could maim your change effort, not only do you need to dispel myths (last weeks post), but you also need to put solid game rules in place that will keep everyone on the same game board. Here are some suggestions to foster effective change:
1. Acknowledge The 300 Pound Gorilla In The Room
Don’t try and institute change covertly - silence, denial and mislabeling always make the situation worse. Call the gorilla, well… a gorilla – let your people know that there are uncomfortable changes taking place. Demonstrate your commitment by asking your opinion leaders for their ideas as to how to go about the change… and actually implement the best contributions. If you want your people to embrace change, they must have a chance to voice concerns and offer input. Effective change management includes listening carefully to concerns and fears – perceived, imagined, or legitimate – that could become barriers. Open communication provides valuable insight, letting you lay the foundations for effective change.
2. Provide Clear, Concise Communications
Even the most dedicated employees want to know how change will affect them personally. It is critical to provide clear and accurate information to the furthest extent possible. Whether they say it or not, people will naturally question:
- How the change will affect them
- What they will need to do differently
- If they will need additional skills to be successful… if so, how will they learn them?
- How they will know if the change is good for them
- If the change will affect their position. Will they be moved or eliminated?
Communicate openly. People can more easily accept change if they know what to expect. Managing expectations is tricky, but it’s vital to success. Make the case for change – provide a clear and convincing rationale for the change and support it with sound evidence. Let those affected know about the proposed change in advance. Advise everyone of the honest implications for individuals, teams, functions, and organizations.