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Is Your Business Change Ready?

6 April 2022

Change is an inevitable part of business. You cannot avoid it — nor should you try. Change brings innovation, creativity, challenge, and adventure. It keeps you and your employees moving, fluid, and capable, and leads to individual and organizational growth.

Your organization may need a tweak, or it may need a major shift, but chances are it will face continuous change moving forward. At its heart, organizational change is not so much about business models or balance sheets. It’s about people. And leading change begins with creating      a change culture.

Is it time?

Knowing how to recognize the need for change is an essential first step. How will you know when your business is ready for something new? If you identify with any of the following criteria, it’s time to consider making a change.

Preparing your organization for change requires planning and careful decision-making, so you’re always ready to respond when change becomes necessary — with or without warning. It’s essential to keep your choices proactive when preparing for the future. And the first step is creating a change-ready culture, one focused on vision and centered on people, solid leadership, and organizational agility.

Vision

Vision is the foundation of your organization. Vision describes the future you see for your business in terms of productivity and profit and is focused on every aspect of your company, including:

These elements remind you and your employees of your objective. Build a purpose-driven vision — one you can clearly, consistently, and authentically communicate to your employees. When workers understand and believe in the vision driving their work, they can more readily see the need for change and how it contributes to their success and that of your organization.

People-centered

Your people are your greatest asset, so use a people-centered approach when making decisions. Forcing unexpected change on your employees invites a negative reaction. Instead, focus on proactive, intentional change that includes input from workers during your decision-making process. Increasing employee autonomy, and giving them a voice, builds trust and drives innovation by encouraging workers to consider other ways to improve your company. And because their concerns have been addressed from the beginning, you and your employees can devote your energy to implementing successful change rather than overcoming internal resistance.

Leadership

Fearless and committed leadership is key. Transformational leaders encourage, inspire, and motivate employees to innovate and create positive change and organizational growth. Leaders must be willing to take risks and act without fear as they commit to change and support their team’s commitment to agility and success. Prioritize leadership development, and encourage leaders to take risks without the fear of failure, or its consequences, slowing them down.

Agility

Make change management a part of every aspect of your business to increase your organizational agility. Making change management the norm leads to employees who expect well-managed change as a common and positive part of their work life — rather than a negative to be feared. In a change ready culture, every employee is aware of what a change means for them, how their work will be affected, and the positive impact expected for the organization.

Get ready

Preparing your business for change requires forethought and planning. How can you begin?

  1. Establish your vision for change. Even though you may be tempted to figure things out as you go along, setting your vision for change is vital. The purpose of your organization’s vision is to understand the destination as you determine the nature of your journey. Vision defines what you are trying to achieve, and it’s the first step toward formulating an effective plan.
  2. Develop a change strategy. Once you know what you want to achieve, develop solid, coherent steps and strategies to get there. Good goals are simple to describe, inclusive, and incorporate strategies for sales, marketing, and other necessary considerations.
  3. Evaluate for feasibility. Make sure your plan is ready and ensure your organization is ready for your plan. Look at technical feasibility: Can you obtain or develop the technical capability to do what your plan requires? Assess cultural feasibility, specifically the human dynamic and how it is likely to help, or hinder, your progress. Is your leadership receptive to new ideas and easily adaptive when things don’t go as planned? Keep yourself honest and evaluate your company’s strengths and weaknesses from a clear, unbiased perspective. Address potential issues before they become a problem.
  4. Coach for conflict. Conflict is inevitable, but it is not inherently unhealthy. Acknowledge that it’s bound to occur, involve your team, and discuss how best to manage conflict if/when it arises. Agree on conflict management strategies, review them periodically, and implement coaching as needed.
  5. Prioritize communication. In the absence of clear and consistent communication, people tend to rely on rumor, mixed messaging, and poor, or incomplete, understanding. Change requires clarity on every level. Establish clarity with frequent communication designed to reconnect your employees with your company’s vision and change strategy. Leading your organization through change requires patience and commitment as everyone adjusts to new habits and ways of working.
To learn more about people-centered readiness strategies for organizational change management, visit Fitch Consulting.
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