Just over 70% of change management initiatives fail. A quick Google search for “change management statistics 2018” supports what managers already know; change isn’t just hard, it’s expensive, it kills production, demotivates employees, and zaps confidence.
So, why change? Those of us who wish to remain competitive, innovative, or marketable need to be able to adapt to change. Change is constant, necessary, and inevitable.
The Valley of Despair
The most difficult part about change is the period of time between the “what is” state and the “future state”. Change management professionals call this period of transition “The valley of despair”. The time it takes people to get used to operating by the new procedures is by far the most stressful and least productive time for organizations.
Tips for Success
The good news is, you don’t need a degree in change management to execute effective change in your organization. Here are some tips for making sure your change initiative happens as smoothly as possible.
Communicate the Vision
It’s important that employees know why the change is necessary. Communicate the vision. Explain to people what is changing, and why. It’s important to let your team know what success will look like. If people know what the eventual outcome will be, and have proper training and support, they will be much more resilient and ready for change.
Identify the Change
Let everyone know exactly what is changing and what the impact will be on an organization level and on an individual level. Finally, it’s important to let your team know what success will look like.
Determine the Stakeholders
It’s easy to get caught up in the chaotic pace of upcoming change. But it’s important to consider who will be impacted. The people who are in “the trenches”doing the job every day are likely the best resources for feedback. Communicate to them what they will need to do differently. Consider where you might encounter resistance. And, most importantly, identify who will lead the change. An ideal change manager has project management and operational knowledge, as well as excellent communication skills. If you don’t happen to have these three attributes in one resource, consider delegating to a team.
Communicate and Train
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw.
People naturally make up the parts of the story that aren’t clear. Announce the change and communicate progress on a regular basis. Train, and allow time for practice wherever possible. (On average, people need to repeat a task 10 or more times to become proficient at it.)
If possible, assemble a “pilot” team to test out the change before implementing it across the entire organization. Identify a process for escalating issues and providing feedback. Leverage your pilot team to help roll out the change and mentor other employees.
Implement and Monitor
This goes back to identifying what “success” looks like. Understand that you won’t see the full results of the change initiative right away. It can’t happen overnight. Celebrate wins! If your goal is to be 100% paperless, celebrate when you get your first paperless loan file closed. This helps reinforce the idea that change is possible.
Don’t Fear Resistance
Don’t assume that resistance to the change means that people aren’t able to change. Resistance is a sign that people are engaged and have opinions about how the change will impact them. Create a system for soliciting feedback from the people directly impacted by the change.