Change management can be a challenging process for executives. How does your organisation navigate and adapt to changes in its culture, underlying technologies, infrastructure, internal processes, and top leadership?
Do you deploy new or old strategies based on the challenges faced? How do you successfully navigate through the storm?
It’s undoubtedly a critical situation, one that demands attention.
Leaders at the helm of organisations, entrusted with the responsibility to steer through these changes, often find themselves at a crossroads in search of effective solutions.
So, how can an organisation’s top leadership successfully navigate through change without disrupting business operations and workflow?
Let’s find out, shall we?
Types of Organisational Changes
These are minor changes and adjustments that an organisation adopts to address certain business needs.
Organisations modify these changes to fine-tune, course-correct, implement and execute business strategies.
Examples of Adaptive Changes
- Hiring new employees
- Upgrading software or equipment
- Testing new products
- Introducing new payment options for customers
- A change of website pages
Unlike adaptive changes, transformational changes have a larger scope and may include a change in company culture, mission, structure, processes or performance review.
Whereas adaptive changes are gradual and often take time, transformational changes are typically seen as more radical and can still require considerable time for implementation.
However, the adjustments and adaptation period for an organisation following a transformational change may be extended to fully realise the benefits of the change.
Examples of Transformational Changes
- Culture change
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Business Model Transformation
Challenges Faced by Organisation’s Executives In Enacting & Implementing Change
Changing a business culture, adopting new technology or even bringing in new employees can be a challenging task.
Failure to correctly implement these changes can turn into a disaster for your organisation.
Below are some of the most common challenges faced by executives when enacting and implementing change.
Lack of a Unified Change Strategy
How would you expect to effect change when every stakeholder involved has a different definition of the change?
Sometimes what leaders envision as the picture of success for a change, it’s completely different from what the team envisions.
Whether it’s a change in processes, culture (mindset) or digitisation, ensure every member working towards the change reads from the same page.
Lack of Executive Support
A question often arises among your staff, “If top leadership doesn’t champion the change, why should we?”
While many executives recognise the necessity of change and the benefits it can bring to the organisation, a significant number don’t fully understand their roles in implementing change or the resources required for change success.
Lack of Tailored Communication
When it comes to change communication, it is important to know what type of messages should originate from where.
Keeping your employees well-informed through regular updates, meetings, brainstorming sessions and understanding what form of communication approach works is crucial for change.
According to Prosci’s research, face-to-face communication is most effective and recommended when it comes to conveying important messages.
Prosci’s research also suggests that employees often prefer to hear the business reason for the change from top leadership and how these changes will affect them on a personal level from their immediate bosses/team leaders.
Managing Change Resistance
Naturally, people are resistant to change, especially if the current situation offers some form of security and comfort.
New and sudden changes, most of the time threaten familiarity as employees need time to learn and adopt the new procedures.
As a leader, your role in mitigating resistance is crucial. Collaborating closely with the change manager to support their efforts in addressing resistance can be highly effective when implementing change.
Solutions for Successful Change Management for Executives
Leadership Involvement in the Change
Many organisations underestimate the crucial role that executives play in change success
Being seen by your employees, advocating and walking the change positively influences how those changes are perceived and adopted.
Put Your Employees First
Successful change management involves people.
Take a moment and be in the shoes of your employees. Imagine being told to embrace changes you don’t understand
Do you think these changes will be adopted or implemented successfully?
Changes that are implemented without engaging, supporting and equipping your employees often fail.
Therefore, preparing and engaging your employees through proactive change management plans ensures its success.
Clear Communication on the Changes
A good cause can face resistance when it lacks clear communication but is worth noting that not all resistance is bad or negative.
The impact and effectiveness of a transformative cause may depend significantly on the quality of the communication that supports it.
Effective communication provides clarity regarding why the change is needed, the risk of not changing and the benefits of the change. This in return, creates a sense of importance, ownership and urgency.
Organisations can utilise various communication methods, such as post-communication surveys, focus groups, and individual interviews to assess the most effective communication approach and take adaptive actions if need be.
Pay Close Attention to Employees’ Resistance
Something that many company executives tend to overlook is resistance to change, a situation that can be averted if identified early enough.
To identify resistance during the early stages of implementing change, it is essential to establish feedback mechanisms such as surveys and input sessions.
Wrapping Up – Effective Change Management for Executives Lies In the Right Approach
Navigating through change for organisations has always been a challenging task.
It often demands the implementation of well-thought-out communication strategies, active and visible executive sponsorship, a structured change management approach and the active involvement of all stakeholders within the organisation.
Successful change management heavily relies on executives’ understanding of their role and active participation in the change.
These leaders facilitate change by authorising funding and other resources thereby significantly boosting the likelihood of a successful change initiative.
To effectively implement these strategies, it is advisable to partner with experienced and reputable firms, such as Cedar Africa Group, an exclusive Prosci partner in East Africa, offering research-based change management solutions.