Change Management checklist
1. Be a Change Agent – don’t brace yourself for the change, be flexible and “go with the flow”. If the rate of change within the organisation exceeds your own rate of change as a manager you are going to have real problems – personally and as a part of the overall business. Also, as a manager, if not you then who is responsible? If you want to benefit from the positive outcomes of the change or if you wish to minimise the potential negative impact of change for your team and for yourself – then you need to be the person who takes responsibility for driving and managing the change. If your people detect that you are not bought in and you have an “it’s their responsibility” attitude (who are they by the way?) then your staff will not buy-in and be open to adapting themselves to and working with the changes.
If nothing else your people will respect you more if they see you taking responsibility and being accountable for your part in managing the future development of your business – if you want the rewards, you need to be seen to be putting the related work in – this is what comes with the territory of being a manager and being paid at managerial level.
2. Promise Change – because that is a promise you can keep and use it as an opportunity to make the changes that are needed in your part of the organisation. You need to understand that the workforce is primed for change, anticipates it and therefore is poised to adapt more readily than usual. Give your people credit for being able to deal with changes more easily than you may think – be careful that it is not your own fear of change which is holding you back rather than you assuming that they have issues with it.
3. Don’t give away your managerial power – avoid becoming more tentative or uncertain during times of change. Assume an active stance and don’t sit around waiting for permission. If you wait for crystal clear signals from those above regarding what you can and can’t do, then your part of the organisation will loose momentum. You will look better within your superiors and subordinates eyes if you attack your job with confidence.
4. Keep a Positive Attitude – your attitude as a Manager will be a major factor in determining the climate within your organisation. Change can be aggravating, confusing and stressful, look on it as a test of your emotional resilience.
5. Give your people clear-cut direction and establish clear priorities – clear guidance from you helps keep your people on track and reduces the odds that they will show a drop-off in productivity. You need to manage in such a way that you minimise ambiguity and clear up the “unknown” as much as possible.
6. Focus on short-range objectives – since organisational change often means that you will have a loss of resources within your work-group and you may loose some of your people, yet have as much or more work to do than before. Maximise effectiveness by operating with clearly defined goals and objectives and focus intensely on short-term targets, which will enable “bite-size” senses of achievement for your people enhanced by generous feedback regarding progress that is being made towards goal achievement.
7. Clarify Work Roles – you cannot assume that all employees know exactly where and how to aim their effort. Even if they don’t ask, even if they seem to be moving confidently in the same direction as you – check! Meet with each of your employees to re-define job responsibilities, be very specific especially on such issues as decision-making authority, personal accountability and reporting requirements. Make sure all subordinates have a precise understanding of their expected performance standards and help each of them identify what the “critical few” make or break aspects of their job really are.
8. Get Resistance to change out in the open – the way to deal with it is invite it – get it out in the open, then you are in a position to more easily manage it – also see it as a “diagnostic” of what is happening in the organisation – when it becomes extreme – something is not being done right. Maybe you personally need to change the way you are operating. Ask yourself if you are providing the right role model for your subordinates. Is your own resistance to change too obvious – or perhaps you need to tell higher management that certain changes are not working. Also see it as like your body temperature – too high – there will be casualties – too low – it could mean the organisation/department is too stabilised or complacent.
9. Raise the bar and provide additional job know-how – it may be more practical to expect less in terms of your people’s performance now, but you should ask for more. Make them stretch. Why? Most obviously – there will be more that needs to be done, secondly in a destabilised work environment people often need some introspection – they tend to become more self-aware and examining the “why am I here syndrome” so grab the opportunity to push them to work harder and smarter. During times of change your people will need you to act even more as teacher, trainer or coach – not just boss. By helping them to fully understand the nature of the changes and assisting them to develop any new skills needed to perform competently you will build them up to meet current and future needs of your organisation.
10. Encourage risk-taking and initiative – in yourself and your team – don’t allow “holding patterns” to be created or “play-it-safe” stances. Get the message across that you will be tolerant of mistakes but not inertia. To put it another way, let people know that you don’t expect perfection, but you will require everyone to be independent thinking, decisive and action orientated.
11. Don’t cover all the bases yourself – concentrate on effective delegation, firstly so you don’t spread yourself too thinly and becoming scattered and secondly good delegation gives your people a sense of involvement which positions them to share responsibility for change and feel better about decisions which are made (thus buying into them more readily). Managers feel insecure in times of change and sometimes as a way to self-protect they start to police all activities. Thus their staff become frustrated and lose some of their initiative and the problem begins to become self-perpetuating – the boss becoming increasingly over-committed and less effective, and so on.
12. Create a supportive work environment – people will accept change more readily if they feel supported, they will take risks and be more willing to experiment with new ways of doing things. If they feel threatened, insecure or vulnerable they grow inhibited, more cautious and vulnerable and more likely to fail. Concentrate therefore on shaping their behaviour instead of grading it. Be a coach not a judge or umpire. Give positive reinforcement to employees as soon as you see their work moving in the right direction, instead of waiting for them to be perfect. As Ken Blanchard says – “Catch people doing things right”. Also ensure you recognise and reward psychologically any advances that they make.
13. Rebuild morale – make your people feel valued, encourage their sense of belonging, give them cause that lends meaning to their day-to-day job routine. Employee attitudes and the overall work climate are important for both tangible and intangible reasons.
14. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – Don’t lose touch with your people, which can be easy to in times of flux. Normal communication channels probably won’t be working so well so you will need to counter the highly efficient rumour mill especially since they will be hungrier than ever for answers and information. Good communication is a two way street – provide your people with a variety of opportunities to input to you and be a careful listener – take more time with people and be available, ask more questions, get peoples opinions and reactions to the changes. Maintain more visibility by circulating – “doing a walkabout” and make it clear that you are accessible. Also ensure you get the information to them that they need – even just keeping them posted that you don’t have any new information for them is valuable to them. Strive to be specific rather than vague, clear up rumours and misinformation.
Most importantly remember – if your group has communication problems – there will undoubtedly be secondary problems resulting. It is almost impossible to over-communicate in times of change.