Successful change management boils down to buy in – the better your buy in rate, the easier it will be to implement change in your business.
I have been involved in a few process improvement and system implementation projects in the last four years, and these are my top tips for managing change:
Talk to your team
Before embarking on a system implementation or process improvement project, it’s important to have conversations with your staff. It sounds like common sense to consult the people actually doing the role on a daily basis, but very often this step is missed.
Plant the seed with staff early: “we are looking at making some changes to your workflow, what would you most like to change about the processes you follow daily?” That way, your team has time to think about things, make notes and suggest improvements.
It sounds simple, but too often, conversations about upcoming projects are kept in management meetings. Keep the information flowing to your team, particularly around staff changes: “we’ve got a project manager who will be coming in”, or “we’ve got a consultant starting next month, that person will be scheduling some time with you to chat about your ideas”.
Learn their language
People respond differently to the way information is communicated. There might be some people in your team who prefer an email with a few bullet points about the upcoming project, there might also be some people who would prefer a scheduled conversation about the changes and how they might be affected – it’s important to identify these different people and communicate accordingly.
Open your door
To encourage staff to be forthcoming with process or system improvement ideas, make sure that your door is always open when it comes to discussing brainwaves they may have. There is nothing more deflating for an enthusiastic, forward thinking employee than being shut down with an offhand “bring it up at the next meeting” comment.
Likewise, “we tried that – it didn’t work”, is unlikely to encourage your team to come to you with ways to save your business time and money. Making business improvement conversations a priority will mean the ideas people are more inclined to share them.
Leave it on the agenda
As a manager, you will probably be aware that “the project is ticking along nicely”, but make sure you communicate this in your team catch ups. These catch ups are an additional opportunity to receive feedback from those most affected by the changes.
Where possible, try and see the reason for the opposition to a process improvement or system implementation project. Try and validate the concerns of your team, and lead by example, showing them how they can be part of the solution.