Changing an organization’s direction is difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary. Whether you lead a workforce of two people or 2,000, pay attention to these change in management fundamentals.
- Start at the top. You can’t expect people to change their habits if you’re not willing to make some adjustments yourself. Set a positive example to show your commitment to the new approach. Persuade other managers and influential members of your workforce to personify the changes in behavior and performance you need to emphasize.
- Address the human factor up front. Don’t wait for resistance to rise. Take a proactive approach before it solidifies. Talk to employees about how they feel, survey their attitudes, and develop a strategy for convincing them that the change in management is in their best interest as well as your organization’s.
- Get every level involved. Don’t do all the planning yourself, or leave out any departments even if the impact on them will be minimal. Take a cascade approach: Start with the top layer of employees, tell them what changes you need, discuss your approach, and then empower them to take the news to the next level, repeating the process until everyone has the chance to offer input. You’ll get better buy-in and commitment.
- Talk one on one. Don’t rely on emails to your workforce and speeches to groups. Get out and communicate individually with as many people as possible. The personal connection will let employees know you value their opinions and insights. It’ll also give you a chance to communicate your expectations in detail so people know what you need from them specifically.
- Prepare for obstacles. No matter how well you plan, changes will be difficult. People will resist even if they initially accept the situation. Set up a system to track your progress, and be ready to respond quickly when you hit a snag. In the worst-case scenario you may need to let some of your employees go, but you can reduce your losses if you attend to problems promptly instead of letting them fester.
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