One of human being’s most powerful asset is the ability to change.
Being able to change allows us to constantly refine our techniques so we get better at what we are doing over time. It helps us choose between various methods of problem solving so we can become more efficient and productive. It gives us the key to overcoming an environment that is constantly changing so we can still benefit when the circumstance varies.
In fact, many leaders realise that the person, team or organisation that has the most flexibility will end up benefitting the most in any changing environment (and change is present in most environments). One of the common topics we help clients with in the past decade is “Change Management”.
People dislike changes. Most people that is. Statistics puts that number at almost 70%. Most of us prefer to do things in the same way that we have been used to doing it, probably because it gives us a sense of security as we are familiar with it. It fits into our routine comfortably, we know we are already good at doing it that way and it is easy as we do not have to consciously think about it when we are doing it.
People dislike change for various reasons – fear of the unknown, fear of failure, adapting to changes slows things down, having to go through the cumbersome process of relearning again…. etc.
Here are some important steps when introducing changes in an organisation:
1. Change begins with a decision.
Change, in many instances can be critical to an organisation’s survival, and in some cases can make a huge difference in the company’s performance. This information has to be communicated to every member of the organisation. It is when everyone understands that there is no other choice but to change. This will help them make the decision to change.
2. There has to be a systematic way to showing them how to do it.
People learn things at different paces. If you have introduced a game to a group of people, you will realise that a few of them will understand the game half-way though your instructions, some of them will get it by the time you finish and most of them will understand after you repeat some of your instructions during questions and answers sections and some will still not get it when you first start playing the game.
One of the most important things to do when introducing change is to identify the people that will change quickly, the ones that will change with most people and the remainder that will put up the most resistance.
After that, we will need a strategy to show each of the groups how to change, giving them support and also a timeline and incentive to change.
Many are successful in implementing changes to their teams for a short while and after that they realise that people go back to t their old ways of doing things. What is missing is the monitoring and constant reinforcement so that positive behaviour is reinforce to a point it becomes a habit.
When that happens, it will take significant effort to do things differently from the new habit that is being formed.
4. Get professional help.
If help is needed, get it. When you have done everything you can and nothing seems to be working or the results are not consistent, it may be a sign that professional help is required.
Some of us may have that experience at a personal level. Sometimes, some people just need that extra push to get to where they want to go. An executive coach will sometimes do the trick for you and takes the load off your shoulders.
The very act of getting an external consultant to give that additional support to the particular employee – shows the importance of the exercise and gives the additional motivation for a person to change.
In summary, change doesn’t always have to be difficult. As long as it is properly managed and introduced in stages with the right strategy, it can be implemented smoothly.