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Lars Linnekogel
Lars
Linnekogel

3 Key Elements for Successful Change Management

14.08.2019
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Many organizations have recognized how rapidly our working world is changing. As they move forward into the future, they rely on effective Change Management to respond appropriately and flexibly to the newly emerging environment.

Change Management refers to all approaches used to prepare and support individuals, teams and organizations during times of strategic change. These changes will help to expand and secure the company’s success in the future.

The driving forces behind this transformation are constantly developing; digital technologies, Big Data, analytics and artificial intelligence are among the massive “game changers” of the future for the companies of today. The talents of tomorrow also find themselves undergoing a period of change as employees are increasingly looking for a greater sense of purpose in their work while providing companies with new skills profiles. 

In this fast-moving environment, the best form of defense is to get moving; companies want to proactively make changes to counteract the ongoing transformation. For this reason, these changes to the usual conditions present many companies with the opportunity to embark on a search for new paths of development. At the same time, these new opportunities should be exploited through a process of change – this time in the organization itself. 

In other words, the path leads out of change, into change. However, the reality check for the implementation of Change Management shows us that this bold journey does not always succeed. According to an IBM study entitled “Making change work…while the work keeps changing” , only 20% of all transformation projects are very successful (i.e. achieving a success rate of more than 75%) and only 49% of organizations consider their leaders capable of making effective changes. 

So what are the reasons behind the failure of the transformation processes implemented by many organizations? And what exactly is the right path to change for the companies of today? 

The Biggest Obstacles to Effective Change Management

Management reacts too late: Managers often only take action when the signs of crisis are already too strong for the company. Instead of waiting, they should anticipate the need for change well ahead of time and prepare for the change program.

Missing strategy: What should the future look like for the organization and its employees? And above all, how exactly should it get there? These questions are often left unanswered even when changes are being introduced. 

Lack of alignment: For changes to be successful, all stakeholders should be convinced by developments and pull together.

Declining commitment of the management: If the management’s commitment levels drop during the course of the program, it can send the wrong signals to employees.   

Little attention is paid to stakeholder feedback: Change is ultimately borne by all individuals within the company, so the views of all stakeholders should be taken into account during the transformation process. 

3 Central Signposts for the Success of Your Change Management Process

1. Vision 

The future vision of the company forms the foundation for successful transformation. Apart from the ideal of where you see your organization in five years time, for example, you should work on other aspects of your directional vision: 

Why?

Which factors form the motivation for change? These reasons can vary: you see your company’s position in the market being threatened, your production and warehouse planning is not achieving the desire results, or you are hoping to gain new opportunities from a good idea and want to be the first company to bring them to the market. Clearly define the reasons behind your motivation for changing the company. 

Where to? 

What ideal state are you aiming to achieve in your organization? Perhaps it could be the implementation of a cost reduction, a mindset with increased ownership on the part of your employees, or the preservation of market leadership.  

Define a clear goal that you want to achieve in your company and break it down into a variety of concrete terms. This will ensure that your vision is tangible and not just the product of an overly optimistic attitude.  

How?

Work out a strategy for the practical implementation of these changes. Which operational measures should be used to solve the “complication” (i.e. the why) and realize the vision of the future? Define concrete programs and training for various departments and teams. In addition, set short-term interim goals as well as the long-term direction for the change process.

2. Soft Skills

The way of thinking and the actions of the senior management team are especially crucial if the transformation process is going to enjoy success.

Curiosity

The courage to innovate and the desire for change should be firmly anchored as an integral part of the corporate culture. Managers who keep their eyes open can detect new market trends faster. They can and want to react to changing conditions before they become noticeable as negative effects.  

Conviction 

A key factor in the stakeholders’ acceptance is that the management fully supports the changes every step of the way. Lead by example; planned changes that affect the entire company should be exemplified by the management so that everyone is involved.

Fairness and Empathy

Is the vision supported by all stakeholders? If, from the point of view of some stakeholders, the changes do not appear to be feasible, you should find out whether there are fears or concerns among the other parties involved. Perhaps an employee is worried they may lose their job as a result of the developments? 

The resistance of employees is often put forward as a barrier to change. In reality, however, no member of staff will be opposed to developments which are being implemented in their best interest. 

Communication

During the transformation process, leaders should engage in regular dialogue with stakeholders, communicate news, and seek feedback. It is also important that managers are able to identify which people should be sat around a table for discussions.

3. View of Reality 

Once they have started on the path to change, many companies encounter completely different obstacles than they expected. These measures ensure that you keep your eye on what matters during the development journey:

Monitoring 

An important part of the reality check is reviewing the buy-ins of all stakeholders. Determine whether the stakeholders are ready, willing and able to change by holding discussions. If necessary, have them several times over the course of the process.

  • Ready: Do you understand that change is required?
  • Willing: Do you believe that the change program will have a positive impact?
  • Able: Do you have the necessary skills to implement the changes and is it possible to implement them under the current conditions?

This monitoring can be done in targeted interviews and with the help of software. At TTE, we are working on transformation projects with our self-developed Surwayne application to efficiently aggregate and analyze stakeholder feedback.

Objectivity

One of the most difficult requirements for those responsible for a Change Management initiative is to remain neutral during the transformation program. 

Where are the hidden dependencies in corporate structures? Do the initiatives really deliver the promised results? Is the organization closed to change – or are we just trying to justify the current state?

Many companies are supported by transformation experts during Change Management in order to guarantee effective results. 

Continuity

Before the change is after the change: you can ensure the long-term success of your company’s change process if –  even once the change program has finished – you continue to look for new paths of development and never consider the transformation to be done and dusted.

Our TTE team has already successfully assisted many organizations on their individual path into the future. Learn more about the Change Management projects led by our transformation experts. Alternatively, we invite you to get in touch to discuss your personal vision for the future and new paths of development.



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