Change Management Tips for 2020

Change management can be a tricky business even when it takes place within a large established company culture. If you’re a small business owner, though, overseeing the implementation of changes and development within your company can be particularly challenging, as you may not have previous experience with significant internal changes and their effects.

If you’re planning on incorporating some changes into your company’s processes and culture this year, here are some tips to help you seamlessly set about putting that inspired management innovation into action.


Cultivate a “Cup Half Full” Vision

Internal change typically takes place because an issue needs to be addressed. This could be something as simple as improving interdepartmental communication in order to eliminate wasted time. However, it can also be driven by much deeper, more destructive factors such as downsizing or addressing flagging sales numbers.


Regardless of motivation, change management is often going to involve a certain degree of damage control. As systematic changes are rolled out across your company, you’re going to want to make sure to cultivate a “cup half full” mentality at all times. Focusing on the positive elements is often a key ingredient to propagating change, as this helps to spread the vision and encourage your employees to embrace the shift in policy, operational procedures, and so on.


You can begin this cultivation by identifying the key elements that make the incoming changes a net positive for everyone involved. For instance, if you’re implementing an automated accounts payable solution in the new year, you can fight back against the natural fear of technology with a focus on the positives involved.


One easy item to highlight is the fact that the new system will allow you to avoid the expensive, work-intensive, eco-unfriendly elements of a paper trail. 78% of Americans want social justice issues addressed by companies, after all. Speaking to a common concern like this can help smooth over any qualms your employees may have about tampering with the status quo.


Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small

When implementing company-wide changes, it can be tempting to start, well, on a company-wide scale. After all, this can spark interest on a collective level and can build momentum behind the shift in operations.


However, as attractive as this strategy may seem, it’s important to remember that sometimes change needs to incubate. Before adopting a large-scale roll-out strategy, consider recruiting a select number of employees — they can be both in management as well as lower down the chain of authority — to start the process. By starting small, you’ll be able to easily measure results, gather feedback, and discover how effective the change is.


This early stage can also be an excellent time to establish a chief learning officer (CLO) to spearhead educating your staff on why the change is taking place, and how to adapt in future processes. A chief learning officer can serve an invaluable roll in change management, mainly by overseeing the learning and implementation of the changes with an eye towards empowering the employees that are functioning under the alterations in their work processes.


Woo Your Stakeholders, Don’t Coerce Them

Once you’ve begun actualizing positive, effective change on a smaller scale, you can begin to roll it out to the company as a whole. As you do so, though, make sure to remember that you must woo rather than coerce your stakeholders.


Whether your CLO is training employees to use a new workflow platform, you’re explaining a new automated system to a board of directors, or any other change-based situation, it’s important to adopt a humble, educational attitude. Simply informing your stakeholders about a change can intimidate them and will be more likely to invoke a negative response.


However, if you focus on educating your audience as to the reasons for the change — e.g. “we’re establishing new communication protocol within the sales department in order to avoid a repeat of the communication mistake that led to the loss of a $10,000 sale last quarter” — you’re more likely to find a receptive audience.


Along with educating, the simple act of keeping employees in the loop is critical to change management. If you simply inform your staff of a change and leave them to sort the details out on their own, it’s going to quickly turn any initial positive feelings into frustration and even resentment. Don’t be afraid to encourage questions and feedback from leadership and employees alike, and keep everyone well in the loop as you make changes.


Establish a Change Team

Feedback is crucial to good change management. If you want your shifts in operational policy to stick, consider establishing a change team. This is typically a group of approximately 10 people — although for a small business this number can be reduced — that are selected from the areas of your company that are the most affected by the incoming changes.


Select individuals who are competent, good communicators, and who possess leadership qualities (even if they aren’t technically in leadership). This group doesn’t have to agree with the changes being implemented, either.


Each member of your change team serves as a point of contact with your internal organization. They can provide invaluable feedback regarding the side effects of the changes, allowing you to stay the course, make adjustments, or entirely repeal changes in an informed manner whenever necessary.


Consider All of Your Goals

Finally, remember to always consider all of your goals as you go about overseeing change management this year. While changes are often made in the face of immediate, pressing, and genuine operational risk, you should always keep the long term in mind as you go.


If, for instance, you attempt to increase productivity by implementing a time tracking app for your remote teams, consider what you will want to do once you reach your goal. Will your changes be self-sustaining or will they require further effort to maintain? Will you want to set loftier goals in the future? In other words, consider your long term goals in order to make your change management efforts as effective as possible.


Change Management in 2020

If you can utilize the above recommendations, you’ll be able to execute effective change within your organization while minimizing the possibility of unnecessary complications cropping up as you go along.


The most important thing to remember is that you go about making changes carefully and with an eye towards the impact that they’ll have on everyone involved, from your company’s leadership team on down into the rank and file of your employees and other stakeholders as well.


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