Change Management - what’s your organisation’s change readiness?
How successful is your business at implementing change? Change could mean introducing a new process or service, it could include expanding or reducing the size of a department, or imposing cost saving initiatives. Anything that requires a change of process, behaviour or way of doing things could constitute change. Of course, some changes are minimal with little impact on business as usual activities. Others are far-reaching with direct impacts on current and future activity, people and wider stakeholder groups, and with 70-80% of change initiatives failing to realise their full benefit (King and Peterson 2007), the likelihood of failure is significant. Increasing the success rate is however eminently possible if leaders and business take certain steps. Some things to consider:
Change readiness of the organisation – how has it adapted to change in the past? How receptive are people to the idea of change and how effective have changes been implement before? Does it have capacity and resource to undertake the change required/desired?
Skills of senior management team – how effective is the SMT at managing and delivering change? How much knowledge and skill do they possess in the successful running of their department or service area and how will they cope with additional workload or variation to implement change? Are they onboard and believe in the change being proposed? How accomplished are they at leading change in others?
Resistance from staff – point 1 will directly impact the success or failure of future initiatives but how is resistance being measured and combatted? Is the inertia of change for people simply too great to overcome or can people be won over? How are you managing the involvement of resistant staff members in the process?
Communication – what and how effective is your comms plan? Is it a ‘directive’ instruction that change is happening with little or no opportunity to involve others? Who is communicating the plan and strategy? How are other stakeholders being engaged and included? It’s not enough to adopt a narrow method of comms and expect your people to engage properly or understand why the change is needed, and how it affects them.
Who is managing the process – is this person aware of the process and methodologies and more importantly, aware of what pitfalls to avoid to ensure success? Are they fully committed and capable of leading the change required? Do they understand the scope of the task?
There’s a lot to think about. Too many leaders take a top-down directive approach to change and fail to engage others properly. It causes untold disruption and damage to the business as usual function and can ultimately prevent future change from happening at all. But change must and does happen and those unable to adapt to and implement change successfully will be left behind.
Following a methodical and proven change management process can flip the odds of success, dramatically. Organisations can undo previous failure points, improve the change readiness and remove resistance. It requires time, resource and often an outside perspective to lead and manage the process. The benefits of being able to implement changes and indeed overcome unplanned or forced changes are possible (no matter the size or complexity of the change or organisation) and will leave organisations ready and able to meet future challenges and opportunity.
What’s your organisation’s change readiness?
Hascombes is a business consultancy for SMEs across the UK