By Cody Simpson
April 6, 2016 - You are about to launch a major new initiative that will have a significant impact on the future of your business. After thorough research and analysis, an infrastructure and process has been approved that screams success. The final piece of the puzzle is communicating and socializing this plan throughout your organization.
Executing change with a results focus means taking things from launch to normalcy. This requires five distinct strategies:
Implement a clear communication plan. If this new initiative is truly important, it’s worth the time to poll members of the key stakeholder groups to gauge reaction at key milestones. This will allow you to craft a compelling communication plan that helps all stakeholder groups understand why this initiative is so important, how it will affect each group, and how this will make the company stronger.
Utilize a coalition to drive a sense of urgency. Managers often assume that people will either get on board with a change or get left behind. This is a mistake than can cause poor execution, low morale and negatively impact the quality of the customer engagement. You may be reading this and thinking, “I don’t have time to waste thinking about people’s feelings.” I urge you to reconsider. Natural human reaction to change is going to happen. It's your responsibility to recruit, motivate, and deploy potential allies. Creating a strong coalition will build a sense of unity and urgency that will not only ease, but also expedite the change process.
Establish momentum by overcoming complacency & inertia. Change is experienced organization-wide. Once that change picks up steam, you must facilitate ways for it to overcome complacency (attachment to “the way things were”) and inertia (ensuring it reaches completion with no ambiguity). Ways to do this include fostering group identity, handling conflict & opposition, ensuring resources & responsibilities are aligned, and consistent evaluation that celebrates achievement.
Align incentives. Different stakeholder groups will most likely view change differently. Beyond compensation, there are other things to consider. How will this initiative impact jobs? How will this change impact decision-making processes? Does this change require new skills or knowledge? If so, does the current staff have the capacity to learn these new skills? You must ensure there are clear incentives that align with both KPI's and critical behaviors. Make sure that incentives provide a big reward to those who execute early in the change efforts.
Build change leadership into everyday ongoing operations. As an organizational leader, you can gather information by sharing high level details with representatives from key stakeholder groups. This can happen in a 5 minute hall conversation or a one-hour meeting with a larger group. Make discussing the changes (and their new-found benefits) an informal part of your normal everyday conversation.
Good news: change management is not a daunting task. The insights you will gain from applying these strategies will go a long way to ensuring your entire organization is ready to execute flawlessly and reap the benefits of success.