|Change Management -- It Starts at the Top
Small Business Administration
Change is a common occurrence in business today. Because of this, it is important that you possess strong change management skills if you want your business to be a success. Change management skills include leadership development (to get people to believe in you), marketing and sales abilities (to promote your case for change), and communication skills (to help build support for the decision to change). It will also help if you know a little about the stages people go through psychologically when they are dealing with change so that you are able to tell if you have managed a successful transition or if there are additional problems that you need to address.
The first thing you will want to focus on is your leadership ability. Companies continue to make the mistake of focusing too much on business processes and not enough on good, strong examples of leadership. To be an effective leader in the change management process, it helps if you:
Building your ability as a leader is the first step in the change management process. Once employees believe in you and trust what you're doing, you can then begin your campaign for change. Your campaign for change should target the different "groups" within your business and outline for each the reasons why a change is necessary. For instance, the board of directors will want to know what the long-term effects of the change will be. Similarly, your employees will want to know how they will be personally effected by the changes you are proposing.
Once a change occurs, it is very important to communicate on a regular basis with all effected. Let your employees know what is happening. If your communication skills are weak or you don't have a formal way of letting your employees know what is happening, set one up before you hit this stage of the change process. By keeping everyone informed, you reduce the chances of low productivity and low morale that often accompany unaccepted change.
It is important to realize that although you can use techniques to smooth the change transition process, you will never be able to completely jump from one way of doing something to another without experiencing at least some resistance. Why is this? Well, people adjust to change at different rates. It's just part of human nature. To reduce your frustration with this process, it helps to know the six phases people go through whenever they are experiencing any type of change, be it personal or professional.
It is important to note that people in your organizations will proceed through the different phases at different rates of speed. One person may require two months to reach Phase 6 while another may require twelve. To make things even more complex, the cycle of change is not linear. In other words, a person does not necessarily complete Phase 1 through 6 in order. It is much more common for people to jump around. One person may go from Phase 4 to Phase 5 and then back to Phase 2 again. That is why there is no easy way to determine how long a change will take to implement. However, by using the skills we've outlined above, you increase your chances of managing the change as effectively as possible.