Change is sometimes forced upon us. Under normal circumstances a change programme is planned in advance and can take months if not years to unfold. Because of a global pandemic, businesses are now adapting to the “new normal”. This gives managers the opportunity to steer their teams. The way we are adapting right now to the way we live, work, consume, and connect could outlast the current crisis.
With rapid change needed, here are some useful principles of change management that will help you manage change effectively:
Proactive communication is vital to managing change effectively. Communication is perhaps the most important consideration to emphasise in change management. Communication must happen in a cohesive and coherent way across all functions and levels. After all, people are the key to successful change.
Because of the pandemic, many people are working from home and organisations are having to adapt to different modes of communication. Organisations and employees have had to get a handle on technology to enable communication, using services such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. Tools such as this are great for meetings with your team, or for face-to-face individual meetings. This is challenging for some employees more than others due to their level of experience using these kinds of tools. Not only that, having spoken to a client recently, the thought of having to set up a laptop that they may not be used to using in order to work from home fills some people with dread. People are learning to adapt using technology in ways that are unfamiliar to them. Thoughtful guidance and support through this time is imperative.
Create a sense of trust and understanding among employees by asking them for their feedback, any concerns or questions.
While change is happening, don’t lose sight of your organisation’s culture and core values. This is important now more than ever when your teams are dispersed and uncertain about the future.
Maintain a collaborative atmosphere, try to promote that same feeling while working remotely. Employees shouldn’t have any barriers to productivity, such as making sure they have access to the documentation and tools they need to work remotely. At Equantiis we use SharePoint as a tool for our library of documentation and guidelines that all employees have easy access to. We also have regularly coffee mornings using Microsoft Teams to check in with each other and an end of week social on Teams or Zoom to celebrate the week’s successes.
Check in with your team regularly. A sense of community and belonging should not be lost. At the end of the day we are social creatures.
PATIENCE IS NOT A VIRTUE, IT’S A NECESSITY
Organisations have had to change gear very quickly due to COVID-19 and urgency drives momentum, and momentum drives changes through at pace but recognise that people adapt at different paces to this “new normal”, so be patient.
Many workers are not only getting used to working from home but they are also managing personal demands, like taking care of young children and dealing with interruptions and distractions. They are having to contend with disruption on top of disruption.
When this disruption subsides, employees will remember how their organisation encouraged and supported them.
It is important to empower employees to help their organisation, everyone has a part to play by giving them a defined set of clear responsibilities. As most employees are in new territory working from home it will be important to balance accountability without forcing too much on them. Along with focussing more on employees’ outcomes, this will help get the best out of your remote team.
It’s important to be able to pull your team together when they do well, celebrate their success, however small or large.
EXECUTION AND CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
Strategy is one thing, but you also need to have a strong operational foundation in place to make change happen. The only thing that should remain constant is change, so put in place measures of success so that you can see what has worked and what hasn’t. But don’t be afraid to put temporary measures in place, take on board feedback and adjust the way things are done to maintain a continuous improvement culture. There will definitely be lessons learned from this whole experience of unprecedented change.
LEAD CHANGE WITH HEARTS AND MINDS
AS FREDDIE MERCURY SAID, ‘THE SHOW MUST GO ON’
Resilience and agility are important drivers for success, whatever the economic and business environment. Organisations will adapt to a new way of working and when we get back to normal, organisations may never go back to the way they worked before but instead adapt a new and better style of working based on their experience through this crisis.