The importance of managing change

Those who propose or instigate change must do so from a professional and credible stance.

The only constant is change. Indeed, such is an expression which encourages us to stop and take an introspective look at ourselves and what is going on around us.

Great advances in technology have required us to step up our pace to keep up with all the developments in the globe. Our archipelago is, of course, not immune to such changes and expertise in handling these changes is necessary and required. We have come to a point where we are questioning the political relevance of conservatism and its inability to be an agent of change when this is required.

The change management process

Those who propose or instigate change must do so from a professional and credible stance. A defined process from start to finish will help maintain this professionalism by providing a consistent and repeatable approach to dealing with changes. Consistency also requires support processes in helping people manage their feelings when faced with changes around them. Change agents must be present to help and to support and, above all, to answer questions and provide reassurance.

When such measures are not taken, change and new policy can lead to new points of friction as individuals try to adapt. Fostering trust is essential and cannot be taken for granted. A well-devised change management plan will identify potential friction points and address them before they arise.

Maintaining trust is crucial and the sharing of information through well devised knowledge platforms can devolve the strategy, and boost morale and confidence. Individuals who need to embrace these changes need to feel that they actually own them. Furthermore, management helps business to evaluate, redesign, and implement new processes. Growth and improvement can never stop and the return on investment of such processes will depend on the type of process being optimised.

At times, however, return on investment will be very difficult to measure as some variables would be unexpected outcomes of the change management process. Measuring customer satisfaction through a questionnaire is always an estimate of actual customer satisfaction whereas measuring performance on production will be more accurate.

Another benefit of managing change with intention is that of preparing individuals for the prospect of other major and minor changes which might ensue. Handling change is an individual learning process and each individual finds their own way of interpreting and handling such changes which may be accompanied by fear, resistance, risk taking, and also sabotage.

Barriers to organisational changes can manifest, in fact, as employee resistance, technological constraints, budget constraints, lack of managerial support, for instance. Employee resistance is when an employee opposes change by not participating or making contrary choices, in so doing hindering success, employee morale, and productivity. Change management equips managers to facilitate such shifts in the workplace. Handling change and the stress that comes with it as a process, in a healthy manner, eliminates the element of surprise and keeps individuals prepared.

Costing and the individual’s role

Finally, a word about costing. A poorly managed project can quickly exceed planned budgets, particularly when it takes longer than anticipated. Working on the humane aspect of change management can also help with cost management by anticipating and preventing delays caused by employee – or even leadership -resistance. 

Understanding individuals on a personal level is crucial and, if this is not possible by the topmost executive of any organisation, then this role should be delegated to those who have the necessary skills. It is, however, important that leaders do take the time to know who is in their team, who is part of their family, and what are the bread and butter issues that these people talk about on a daily basis. Finding common ground to engage in meaningful conversations will go a long way in building trust and understanding. In turn, this will pave the way for providing the route to manage change.

Moreover, it is also essential that every team member feels worthy and can contribute into enabling the changes that management is proposing. Leaving people out of the full picture or uninformed will only cause discomfort and resistance. In conjunction to this, people need to feel valued with a career structure which is clearly planned within the proposed vision. They need to know that they are valued and that they have a place to grow within an organisation which believes in them.

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