by Steven Lesser
Change is a constant element in both our personal and business lives. Rarely do situations remain static, particularly in the ever-changing technological society in which we live. Since we cannot escape change, the question is, “How can we best facilitate change so that change is productive and as least stressful as possible?”
Managing change is about being able to:
- Identify the steps of the change process
- Identify ways you can facilitate change
- Recognize key factors which contribute to the success of change
Change is something we experience constantly, as new challenges and opportunities alter what, and how, we do things. For example:
- Globalization has expanded the market for many products and services from one that was local, or perhaps national, in scope to one that spans the world.
- The web has become an essential resource, increasing the pace by helping us do more, faster.
- Smart phones help us stay connected, regardless of where we are or what we’re doing.
Think about some relatively recent changes that have affected you in your personal or business life. Some of these changes, like new technology, make life easier. They provide us with more free time, improve communication, or offer other benefits. With other changes, the benefits may be less apparent…at least initially.
An example of this is a company reorganization that leads to jobs being redefined or eliminated. The reaction to this change is likely to be one of apprehension. Similarly, a new project can have challenges and fail because people and organizations resist the change it brings.
These are changes that you, or others you know, have probably experienced. You can probably think of many more examples, in which the transition from the old to the new “change state”, may have been…
…Extremely rough and rocky, never quite succeeding in achieving the change objective,
…Relatively smooth, with few disruptions in the process of successfully achieving goals, or
…Somewhere in between, with ups and downs experienced throughout the process.
The difference among the three experiences is a result of various factors, including:
- How effectively the change was managed
- Attitudes toward the change
- The sponsors’ level of commitment
- The perceived need for change
In order to minimize the “bumps” and “facilitate the change,” you need to:
- Understand what the change is intended to achieve, and why this is important
- Anticipate the impact the change will have
- Identify and secure the resources and sponsorship needed to implement the change
- Communicate goals, expectations, and benefits to gain buy-in and provide motivation throughout the change process
- Identify and remove potential barriers to successful implementation of the change
- Develop and implement a plan that addresses key issues and stays focused on achieving the change objective
The result will be a transition where the goal is clear, resistance is minimized, and success is realized.