How to Manage Successful Change at Work

How to Manage Successful Change at Work

Change can be a good thing in business. It can manifest through anything from launching a new update or cutting-edge feature to implementing an innovative business process, productivity tool, or piece of software. At times, change can even be as big as a full-fledged rebranding or restructuring of a company.

Whatever the circumstances, even the best changes can also come with a lot of challenges. That’s why it’s always a good idea to set the stage as much as you can before a big change takes place. If you have a sizeable upcoming change looming, here are a few small steps that you can take to make it a seamless, streamlined experience.

1. Embrace a Change Management Process

Old habits always die hard. That’s why, if your change impacts any humans, as is almost always the case, it’s important that you don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Instead, define and oversee how that change should play out.

This is the change management process. It includes a variety of preparatory activities (many of which are below) that can help to shepherd an organization through a period of change.

If you know a change is coming, you can begin to set the stage by acknowledging the need for a process to manage the change itself. This gives you a clear path to follow leading up to the modifications.

2. Designate a Change Management Team

If you want a change to be successful, you must funnel the activity through a single person or team of leaders. By electing a change manager, you establish an organizational structure to oversee the change itself.

A change manager can be personally delegated with the task of preparing for the change. From there, they can oversee the implementation of your change management plan and then follow through on the results.

If a change is in your future, consider what person can oversee it to ensure that it comes to fruition.

3. Clearly Define the Need for Change

You may understand that a change is needed. A piece of software may be in desperate need of an update or a business process may be bogging down your productivity. Just because you can see the need, though, doesn’t mean everyone else can.

This is why, before you initiate any active changes, it’s wise to clearly define why they’re needed in the first place. Are you trying to scale your company? Are you consolidating your operation? Do you need to make a major pivot?

If you want others to buy into the need for change, make sure you can explain why it’s needed in the first place.

4. Set Goals to Guide Your Change

It’s never too early to set goals. If you know something needs to change, establishing the desired result or endpoint can help you and your team understand what kind of change is required.

For instance, you may realize that your vendor sales are lagging. If that’s the case, you might identify selling directly to consumers as a solution. Establishing this goal upfront allows you to consider things like an e-commerce website, online marketing, or even your own brick-and-mortar storefront that can help you get to your new objective.

5. Identify Who the Change Impacts the Most

Change is always disconcerting and often straight-up uncomfortable. This can make resistance to change a major concern, particularly when it comes to those who are in the path of the change. Along with identifying a change manager, goals, and the change itself, it’s wise to consider what parties the upcoming disruption will impact the most.

Will it be your customers, employees, stakeholders, or a combination of the three? Knowing who a change will affect can help you identify who you should focus on as you prepare to make adjustments.

6. Outline a Communication Plan

It’s wise to plan out what and how you’ll communicate with everyone during a change. For instance, you may need to communicate:

  • Well beforehand to give the affected parties time to acclimate to the idea.
  • Throughout the change itself so that everyone stays positive and on the same page.
  • After the change takes place to ensure that everyone is able to return to a state of normalcy.

From changing a business process to updating a tech tool to navigating a rebrand, there are many reasons to keep everyone abreast of the situation as it unfolds. Planning how to do this in advance can ensure that it doesn’t become a problem once the change begins.

7. Consider Training and Tools

Often change involves new skills. Even something as simple as a software update can require learning how to use a new interface. If you’re trying to improve an old system with a new method or piece of software, the skills and mindset required can be even more intimidating.

Always consider how an upcoming change will impact your team’s capabilities. Will they need to unlearn old methods or adopt fresh mindsets? Do they need training with a unique piece of technology or even a new UI design? It’s good to sort these things out as early in the process as possible.

8. Maintain a Flexible Mindset

Whenever a change is happening, you can be sure that issues are going to arise. It’s one of the most consistent things that comes with any variation in business — and that’s okay.

It’s difficult to execute any change management process without a glitch or two along the way. The important thing is that you embrace a growth mindset as you prepare to navigate through the upcoming adjustment. In other words, be ready to adapt in the moment and grow along with your changing enterprise.

Change is a certainty in business. Cycles of growth and decline take place on a regular basis. These are always accompanied by never-ending tweaks, adjustments, and occasionally even a complete overhaul.

It doesn’t matter if you have a minor upgrade or a major rebrand ahead of you, laying the foundation ahead of time is key. If you can take small steps like those outlined above, you can set the stage for a smooth, seamless change that causes minimal trouble and leads to maximum success for your company.

John Norwood
John Norwood is best known as a technology journalist, currently at Ziddu where he focuses on tech startups, companies, and products.