The workplace is forever changing, and that’s a good thing. Technology evolves, we learn more about the psychology of people and their work, we see new generations begin their careers and older generations retire, and we search out new avenues, or different strategies, whether that’s marketing, sales, product teams, facilities teams or any other number of potential departments.
We’re all moving, changing, and adapting, even in minuscule increments – but sometimes, changing isn’t that easy, or simple, or manageable.
Change in the workplace requires a lot of thought, a lot of planning, and a lot of management. This is where the concept of change management begins – the process of managing a change effectively, so that all partners successfully adopt any change within the business. It’s a vital practice to ensure progress within any organisation, no matter the size.
So, how exactly can you most effectively manage a change in the workplace? Read on for a quick guide to the six key points…
1. Develop a strategy
This should always be the first step in any change management process. To develop a strategy, you must first examine where you are currently, and identify where you want to get to. Then, think about the steps needed to make that journey. The easiest way to ascertain this is via analysis of the workspace; what type of analysis will depend entirely on the outcome you’re looking for, but some common ways would include surveying staff, recording data on usage of space, and auditing the existing office environment. From there, you can plot a clear strategy that utilises any data collected.
2. Determine stakeholders
Who is going to be affected by this change, either directly or indirectly? Who will have an impact on how this change is brought into place? Create a list of key stakeholders across the business – this will always vary, but as a brief guide, consider the following: all levels of management, facilities teams, IT teams (if applicable), front of house staff, and anyone directly involved with managing the change, at any point in the journey. Also, consider any outside stakeholders, such as project managers from businesses that are helping facilitate the change, or provide products that are a part of the change process.
3. Evaluate risks
Risks can ruin your plans, cause you to lose time, or cost more than your budget allows. Risk management is an essential part of change in the workplace, and that means identifying potential risks, finding ways to combat them, and being prepared for any unforeseen problems, too. Avoiding any confusing language, being vague about details or plans, and ensuring that your plans are in keeping with the core values of your organisation are all simple, straightforward ways to avoid potential problems further down the line.
The importance of communication cannot be overstated. Keep things clear, concise, and easy to digest for everyone, no matter their stake or responsibility in the business. Ensure that employees have time to consider the upcoming change; it’s not advisable to announce a new process or initiative days, or indeed moments, before you expect the workforce to implement it. Think about identifying ‘Change Champions’ within your office – these don’t necessarily have to be senior staff, but those who have a well-established relationship with the business, and represent its core values well. These individuals can be indispensable in helping to communicate and influence the change management process to their peers.
5. Offer support
Change can be tough, especially in the workplace. When your workforce is used to acting in a certain way, diverting their responsibilities or approach can cause confusion and upset. It is vital that support is offered throughout the change management process, in a three-pronged concept: a suitable physical environment, any tools and training that may be needed, and adequate assistance with regards to the cultural impact the change may have.
Rolling out new processes, new technology or new spaces within your business requires a lot of attention, and not just at the peak moment of implementation. Ongoing support should be available to employees in some capacity, particularly for new tech, which can always have teething problems. Implementation is more than just the beginning – stakeholders must take the transition process into account, and be prepared to weather the storm of difficulties that may arise.
Overall, change management is never an exact science – you should be prepared to act and react, to be flexible, and to make amendments based upon employee feedback. It’s not always a piece of cake, but if the change management process is undertaken properly, it should be as painless as possible, and it certainly should mean the change is ultimately successful.