Q: WHAT IS BUSINESS CHANGE?
Business change – or change management – is the process, tools and technique to manage the people side of change, which will allow you to meet your business objectives and have long lasting results.
The change could be small, such as an improvement to a service area. Or it could be huge and totally transformational like reformulating entire service offerings to keep up with competition.
It usually is an event that will cause major disruption to daily operations. One of the biggest and most important part of any business change is the people: making sure the people affected by the change understand what is happening, why it is happening and how it will benefit them.
Change management is the looking into the psychological reactions of people and works out what they need to go through a change successfully. It will involve looking into the messaging and how things are framed and delivered. Who do they get the information from and at what point during the change program? When is the right time to teach new skills and new behaviours and how to make them stick in the future? All of these things are considered in change management, in order to make people more accepting of the change and therefore the change program more successful overall.
Q: WHY IS IT GOOD TO GO THROUGH ‘BUSINESS CHANGE’?
Change happens in life and in business. It is important that organisations change, to allow them to adapt and grow in an ever-changing and developing world. Employees can learn new skills, explore new opportunities and exercise their creativity. A business might go through a change to become more efficient or to reorganise the workforce.
Q: WHAT DOES A BUSINESS CHANGE MANAGER DO?
A business change manager, also known as business transformation manager, is responsible for overseeing business change. They will ensure the change plan is delivered on time and on budget and will focus on the people side of the business change, including business processes, systems and technology, job roles and organisation structures.
Q: WHAT ARE THE KEY PRINCIPLES OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT?
It’s important to have a strategy for your business change – i.e. you define where your business is and where it wants to be and then make a full plan to ensure that happens. The areas that need to be taken into account for any business change are the people, processes and systems that support the delivery of your service or product to your customers.
- Make culture central to the project:
By making the culture of the business central to the change project you will create an environment that not only accepts change but welcomes it. First you must understand the culture of the business fully, then you must create the people strategy around that. This will help to encourage the whole team to buy into the change and make it as impactful as possible.
- Involve the whole business:
Agreeing with all stakeholders a clear vision of what your evolved business will look like is crucial. After that, the challenge is maintaining coherence and alignment around all elements of it – technology, organisation, people, process, performance management, and interaction with customers, partners, suppliers and regulators.
- Engage with the workforce:
It is the people who make the change happen, so it’s vitally important that they are engaged and ‘bought in’ to the change program, for it to be a success. By keeping open and honest communication the whole way through the process so employees understand what is happening, why and how it will affect them, is the best way to keep them engaged and ensure the change is successful.
Q: HOW CAN WE CREATE A CULTURE FOR CHANGE
In order to create a culture that allows for positive business change, you need to consider the following:
- Training: by fully preparing and training the team so they understand what is happening, what is expected of them and the benefits to themselves, as well as the business, will increase productivity.
- Effective communication: as has been mentioned multiple time, communicate regularly and effectively with everyone in the company, to get cooperation and buy in to the project.
- The organisational structure: review the structure and make changes where necessary to support the change. Then, physically move the team to ensure they are sat with the people they work closely with to encourage collaboration and productivity.
- Executives leading by example: they must change their behaviours and attitude too, to lead by example.
Q: WHAT IS LEWIN’S CHANGE MODEL?
Kurt Lewin was a physicist and a social scientist. His classic model to explain organisational change was explained using the analogy of the changing shape of a block of ice. If you wanted to change the shape of a block of ice you would need to melt it, make the new shape, then freeze it again, so his model involves three steps: unfreezing, changing and refreezing. Using this model helps an organisation to properly plan out the whole change journey and transition.
Q: WHAT ARE MODELS OF CHANGE?
- Unfreeze – Most people make an active effort to resist change. In order to overcome this, a period of unfreezing must be initiated – this stage’s aim is to get the whole company ready to accept that the change needs to happen. The important part of this stage is to explain to everyone within the company why things cannot continue and why things must change. It can be very challenging, especially with attitudes such as, ‘we’ve always done it this way’. You must get right to the core of the company’s beliefs and values, because this is the foundation of the change project, this stage must be done properly.
- Transition – Once change is initiated, the company moves into a transition period. People look to change to the new ways of working to support the change. Leadership is key for the process to be successful; in order for the people to fully embrace the change, they need to understand how the change benefits them, which requires hands on management.
- Refreeze – After change has been accepted and successfully implemented, the company becomes stable again, and staff refreezes under the new guidelines. This stage also incorporates ongoing action and making sure the change us fully implemented and operational in daily business.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT?
A period of business change can feel worrying for employees, if they don’t fully understand what is going on. That’s why it is so important that the process is managed efficiently, the project communicated effectively and everyone in the company feels engaged. The main benefits of change management are:
- Improves morale and productivity within the team which improves quality of work.
- Improves cooperation, collaboration and communication throughout the company.
- A carefully planned approach will reduce stress and anxiety for employees.
- The result of good change management will be increased employee acceptance of the change, yielding better results for the business.
Q: HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY DELIVER BUSINESS CHANGE?
As with all areas of business, having strong leadership is important. The whole business needs to feel confident in the team who are driving the business change forward and trust that they will do the best job.
A clear vision is essential when setting out the strategy and planning the whole change program. A ‘rich picture’ is a good tool to use throughout the organisation as a way to explore, acknowledge and define the change through diagrams. It can help the whole work force to have open discussion and come to a broad, shared understanding of a situation.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities are necessary, so everyone knows their part in the project. Communication and collaboration are key throughout the team, for the duration of the project – and beyond.
Identifying and engaging all stakeholders is crucial; it’s important to build relationships with them all and communicate to each of them in the right one. You cannot take a ‘one size fits all’ approach, it needs to be a more tailored approach.
- Analysing and reporting success
Analysing results and reporting on success are really important: even the small wins encourages the whole team and show the change project is going in the right direction.
Q: HOW CAN WE ELIMINATE BARRIERS TO CHANGE?
First of all, you must understand what barriers there are in your business. They could range from the structure of the organisation: making collaboration difficult, to leadership styles: if the manager is focused on the wrong thing it will not help to motivate staff. And from lack of skill set within the organisation and current team, especially where new technology is being used, to outdated systems and tools which need updating. Once you pinpoint what specific barriers your company has, you can then eliminate them, before they become a problem and get your change program off to a strong start.
Q: WHAT TYPE OF CHANGE PROGRAMS ARE CALLED TRANSFORMATIONAL?
They are called transformational when the whole business needs to reshape, rather than just making changes to existing processes – called transitional change or improving procedures – developmental change. The need for transformational change normally comes about due to pressure from external sources; technology, the economy or competition.
Q: WHY IS TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE SO IMPORTANT?
The purpose of transformational change is to create a huge change in a business which makes it much more effective and improves performance in product or service or both. It is so important because ultimately it will lead to a much more successful business and if there has been a huge change in the market that has forced the business to make the change, then it could ultimately save the company and lots of jobs!