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Esther McMorris

Nine Feet Tall

Founder & Director

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Change management: convincing, delivering & sustaining effective change


Regardless of business size or sector, there are three key aspects to consider when approaching change management.

  1. Intellectual Understanding – why the change is necessary
  2. Emotional Engagement – stakeholder discussions and the perceived ownership of the changes
  3. Sustained Action – how to implement long-term transformative benefits that provide value

Ignoring these principles can have an irreversible and detrimental effect on any potential success. If the reasoning behind the change lacks clarity, staff and customer-led resistance can occur, morale and business efficiency can be damaged and roadblocks could appear before the process has even gathered momentum.

Change is a constant balancing act of controlling disruption, communicating progress and enforcing a vision. Before implementation can even begin, create a simple, achievable vision that your workforce can understand.

Spend time understanding who has influence over the project and how much support you need from them. This will help you determine and develop your key messages. Paint a compelling overview of why the change is necessary, thus translating enthusiasm into future action.

Metrics for measuring success need to be realistic and relatable, otherwise stakeholders will lack enthusiasm during and after the process. Avoid focusing solely on internal staff uptake. HR should consider customer perceptions as well as the wider business implications, especially if the changes directly link to sales or external communications.

Progress towards success

Once a plan of action has been created, free of jargon and corporate complexity, the next step is to transform stakeholder enthusiasm into actual change. Ownership and accountability can be a complicated process, but regular communication and updates with key departmental contacts will ease resistance and prevent disruption.

There will always be individuals who are apprehensive, so welcome their feedback. This demonstrates progress and helps maintain stakeholder optimism.

It is important to remember change management’s main resource, its people. Separate the changes to avoid confusion and fatigue. Keep it simple at every stage and if something sounds overly complex, it probably is. 

In a multi-site / multi-departmental case, engage local teams and troubleshoot issues during deployment. This will assist senior management and overcome macro-level barriers. Try to never lose sight of objectives or overlook the external effects of what is being implemented.

Change management needs to transform a company not damage it, so communicate changes to customers if necessary. Transparency will ease anxieties. Also, open and vocal organisations often have stronger long-term relationships compared to those that operate a behind-closed-doors policy. Openness should obviously never come at the cost of competitive advantage, so approach this aspect of the implementation with care.

Sustainable advantages

Success is achievable if you stick to a plan. Not only does staying on course prevent delays and keeps stakeholders content, but if you have correctly mapped the organisational structure, workforce capabilities of the company and the overall behaviour of key participants, results should occur at the desired rate.

Sustainability is critical. Maintaining the change and its benefits requires constant care, but thankfully there is a range of strategies to ensure this.

For example, analyse training to identify which future skills are needed by staff to uphold change and whether specialists should be brought in. Try to reassure your staff, customers and stakeholders regularly so alterations and post-implementation adjustments do not cause discontent. The company culture should transform for the better, so look at further methods to facilitate this.

There might be priority complications that need solving. Move quickly to prevent these from having an antagonistic effect on staff. Plan for the future, highlight where longer-term difficulties could occur and ensure measures are in place to solve these challenges.

Most of all, celebrate success. Reward everyone for enduring the process. Be vocal about the HR, operational and growth benefits that have been achieved and those that will come in the future. This will make future projects easier and guarantee long-term success.

Author Profile Picture
Esther McMorris

Founder & Director

Read more from Esther McMorris

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