How a few fundamentals can make the process of change smoother than you ever imagined.
Effective organising and dealing with change can sound so simple. But it’s not. You need a change management model that works for you and, crucially, for your employees. Whatever shape your model takes, employee engagement should be its cornerstone.
Most people in business accept the importance of change. Yes - we can assert ‘most’ with confidence. Those who haven’t embraced the change mantra - well, they’re the ones who need to be brought into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the process and develop engagement.
Even change for change’s sake has its benefits. As Washington Irving, 19th century American essayist, wrote -
“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.”
So. Change happens. Change is good. Change is necessary. What’s less clear is how to make sure that change works for the best - how to make it work so that it achieves the desired results. There are so many potential pitfalls, so many wrong turns you could take. It’s easy to see how, poorly managed, change could lead to stagnation, or worse.
A model for change implementation
Try this change model for size, using the acronym RAKAR -
1. Recognition of the need for change
2. Appetite to carry out the change
3. Knowledge on how to change
4. Ability to make the change
5. Reinforcement to make sure change sticks
RAKAR is a linear process. These are not steps that you take piecemeal or all at the same time. You need to achieve one step before you move on to the next one.
Avoid making enemies
But before you even consider this, or any other model, you need to establish your main cornerstone. Get your people onside. Without having them involved, your change model is doomed from the outset. As Woodrow Wilson said - ‘If you want to make enemies, try changing something’.
Here are four ways to get the organisation prepared.
Communicate - You and your managers need to use a variety of communication techniques to set expectations. This shouldn’t be a one-off. Without effective, frequent, repeated and systematic communication, your employees will easily lapse into complacent resentment.
Involve – Bring your people with you by engaging with them through the process, some of the best ideas come from those who will live with the end results. A sense of ownership is the fastest route to ‘buy-in’.
Train - There are, of course, any number of training methods - one-to-one, classroom, online, and micro-learning. You will need to ascertain which works best for which of your people and their workplace practices. Just be sure that the delivery involves plenty of explaining and question-answering. “This is the way it’s going to be” just won’t do.
Reinforce by example - The change process isn’t only about your employees. It’s about you too. Everyone, from the top down must set the example for the new working practices. The CEO, the managers and the employees should be held accountable.
Change isn’t just about minds - hearts matter too
Remember that change isn’t just about effective processes. Sure - they are what drive your business forward. They’re the engine of your success. But hearts are the fuel. You can invest as much as you like in a training program that explains the process of change. But if you can’t inspire your people by justifying and ‘living’ that change yourself, well you might just as well save your money. Think about linking the changes to your Reward Strategy. Change is, more than anything about your people and people are ‘only human after all’.
Motivate your people to be the best they can be.
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