No matter what type of organization one is leading, it’s essential to understand the importance of change management. This is especially true in 2021, as it has become the norm for businesses to remain in a state of constant change to remain competitive. From stock market ups and downs to political squabbles and environmental shifts, there are countless factors that impact businesses every day.
The continued effects of COVID-19 have also revealed just how quickly a revenue model can be turned upside down. Movie theaters are struggling amidst the pandemic, as new films are now being premiered online through various streaming services. Education has also been impacted. Distance learning — both at the secondary and collegiate level — has become the norm. And the list goes on and on.
This makes having a robust and fully implemented change management plan imperative for businesses looking to stay at the forefront of nearly every industry. A change management strategy should fully address the following elements:
- The scope of the change: How large is the change? Has the company experienced a change of this scope previously?
- The external and internal groups impacted: Who is managing the change, and who are the other key team members? How does this change affect the internal and external stakeholders?
- Discussion and planning regarding anticipated resistance: Are there pain points that can be predicted, and how can those be addressed?
How organizations can approach change management strategically
Based on the information an organization gathers and the strategy it selects, it can create a comprehensive plan for change management to govern all aspects of the change and reinforce the strategy, as well as address the importance of change management for all stakeholders. Effective change management involves employees at all levels, fostering trust that creates a feeling among employees of “buying into” the change. If C-suite executives are the only ones creating the change, a true shift in the organizational culture will never occur.
Ensuring the participation of different departments also creates a better understanding of how the changes will affect the organization from different perspectives. Requesting this participation from the beginning reduces the need to manage resistance as the change is implemented. Although there is no magic crystal ball, a good strategy to deploy here would be to “expect the unexpected.”
Organizations should incorporate ongoing change as a positive cornerstone of their overall culture, and those responsible for change management should take steps to monitor that culture. Staff surveys, small round tables, larger group meetings, and other tools can all be useful ways to measure progress and adapt to unforeseen circumstances. These tools also provide managers with valuable insight toward how those changes can affect morale and productivity at every level. This assessment should be more than a simple gesture, as it’s imperative to really listen to employees and validate their concerns.
Change management and organizational culture
To best position an organization to implement quick, successful changes, the “visible” aspects of this culture should ideally be close to the “invisible” truth commonly accepted within the ranks of the employees. Although it’s easy to promote a new and improved model for success, there won’t be unified enforcement of these improvements unless employees of all levels are cooperating with the changes.
Business requires an endless cycle of assessing where innovation is possible, implementing change and change management strategies, analyzing the effects of the change, and repeating the cycle toward the desired result. To achieve a successful model of readiness for continuous change, employees and stakeholders must be empowered with the tools, techniques, and mindsets that lead to change for the organization.
Learn more about change management strategies
Focusing on equipping all levels of employees with these skills creates less resistance to change, fosters motivation, and builds a more agile and flexible organization. Managers must set the pace and tone, understanding that the importance of change management is only going to increase throughout 2021 and beyond.
Helping organizations navigating change is a cornerstone of good business administration. The lessons drawn from Maryville’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program can provide a solid foundation if you want to learn how to implement effective changes in your own company.