The pandemic prompted an unprecedented scope and pace of change – but it’s one that has now become the new normal. Looking ahead to 2022, it’s the strength of a business’ change management strategy and its implementation abilities which will determine its ability to sustain growth and seize on the new opportunities.
The following insights are based on original content from the Level5 Roundtable: The Art of Successful Change Management, Part 1 and Part 2, which featured Claude Ricks, Jordan Shapiro, and Joseph Smith from the Level5 Enterprise Strategy, Transformation & Change team.
1. Start at The Top
Getting the green light and securing complete engagement from the top is the most important step to preparing for successful change. The C-suite needs to set an ambitious vision and bring it to life for the organization – this is how to empower all levels of employees to embrace the upcoming changes – and the only way to do this, is to invest the time required to have the full support of the leadership team.
2. Articulate a Destination
People are hesitant to fully support a new approach or strategy where they don’t see a clear end game or finish point. They also need to fully understand how the change strategy applies and shapes their component of the business. Conflicts arise when people are unclear on how the change will impact them or feel as though the step changes being implemented are not cumulatively building to something.
3. Sequence Strategically
Organizations too often treat change management as a component of the implementation phase instead of the strategy phase. This incorrect sequencing has an incredibly detrimental effect on the final outcome. When people aren’t engaged in the process it undermines buy in in the process and vastly increases the likelihood of developing a culture of organizational reluctance. It also raises concerns about readiness, especially with teams and functions that were not brought into the strategy.
4. Test Readiness
It’s important to critically assess the realistic “readiness” of the organization before undertaking a strategy. This needs to be done to make sure companies aren’t risking the delivery of business outcomes due to a poor change management process. No organization can or should go from zero to 100, change needs to happen over 20, 30 baby steps that reflects business readiness and business realities.
5. A Change Playbook
For the past 18 months, people have effectively been trying to embrace non-stop change almost daily and then adapt their habits accordingly. Ultimately, successful change management within an organization comes down to helping people understand how to change their behaviors on a micro-level. Clarity of vision and unified leadership is critical for gaining alignment across the organization and rallying support for change. But the vision on a macro-level means little if there is no clarity around expected behaviors and ways of working on a micro-level. People need to know how their role is going to change and what’s expected of them as the changes are being implemented. Successful organizational change management is about the orchestration and clear communication of the thousand steps across functions.
To capitalize on the incredible opportunities in today’s disruptive environment, businesses must plan for change and then effectively manage their change strategy. Finally, remember that when change is being implemented, there are going to be mistakes along the way and leaders need to be comfortable with that – because if mistakes aren’t being made, teams are likely playing it too safe – and that is not a viable pathway for any business looking to create sustainable growth.
For more on how Level5 Strategy can help you navigate the pace and impact of organizational change, please feel free reach out to us here.