Change is all around us. Every day we have to figure out how to adapt to something that might change such as the weather, traffic patterns due to construction or accidents, and any other expected or unexpected situation that arises. Just as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “the only thing that is constant is change.” Given change is something we must constantly adapt to, it is interesting when it comes to the workplace, change initiatives fail more than 70% of the time (Kotter, 2008). It is possible for change efforts to succeed and employees at all levels of the organization can help make that possible. What it takes is a strategic approach!
EDC recommends 6 tips leaders and employees can apply to work towards making organizational change efforts successful:
- Having a clear vision. If the need for change is unclear, it is nearly impossible for anyone to understand the reason(s) change is needed, especially to those who perceive the current way of doing something works well. A clear vision helps define the need for change, setting the expectation for what will change and why.
- Alignment with organizational goals. Organizations need to adapt to changing market conditions in order to survive and grow. When aligning change initiatives with organizational goals, it helps establish a clear vision of the change needed as well as gain buy-in from both leaders and employees.
- Leadership support and involvement. It is important for leaders to set the example when it comes to change efforts. After all, if a leader continues doing something the “old” way, what reason does an employee have to change? When leaders lead by example and not the “do as I say, not as I do” approach, it not only shows the employees what the change initiative is supposed to look like but also gives employees more reason and encouragement for going with the change themselves.
- Employee contribution and buy-in. Every organization has far more employees than it has people in leadership roles. Naturally, the majority of the change efforts typically fall to the employees themselves. In order for the change initiatives to succeed, employees need to contribute to the change and have buy-in. In order for that to happen, it is important to involve select employees (that can also be potential change agents later on) in the early stages of the change initiative.
- Excellent communication. Communication is key to any organizational process and change management is no different. There can never be enough communication. Multiple modes of communication should be used such as: town hall meetings (if the change involves the whole organization), group meetings, emails, deadline reminders, even posters/flyers around the office, etc.
- The best way to ensure change not only happens, but also lasts, is to hold everyone accountable for the change itself. It is important to look for ways to measure the before and after change initiative. Also, ensure everyone clearly understands what needs to be done for the change to be successful by having metrics for measuring the change, and if appropriate, ensure leaders and employees understand the consequence if the change fails.
A change agent is an employee, at any level of the organization, eager and willing to change, leads by example, and helps encourage the change with others. This person is critical to any successful change management initiative. Leaders and change agents can work together using the proposed 6 tips to ensure successful implementations of change initiatives and avoid being a part of the 70% change failure statistic.
Kotter, J. P. (2008). A sense of urgency. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
Envisionary Development Consulting. (2016). Leading change. Pembroke Pines, FL: EDC Training Library.
Tompkins, B. (2016). How to lead change with minimal resistance. Retrieved from http://supplychainbeyond.com/how-to-lead-change/