Dr. Wesley Carter
It has often been said, ‘the only constant in life is change.’ Indeed over very survival is depends on our ability to adapt to our environment. Our directions change whenever a barrier or road block appears. Households, teams, organizations, and communities change. Change is also a business imperative. How entrepreneurs and other organizational leaders address predictable, as well as unforeseeable challenges is pivotal in the current market.
Protecting the viability of the organization may require a change in the strategic direction, organizational mission, value proposition, and resources (human or capital) to achieve a desired future state. Unfortunately, change management strategies tend to be cumbersome or otherwise difficult to execute, posing yet another challenge for organizational leaders.
Organizational leaders get so caught up running the day-to-day operations, that they sometimes fall short on the time required to evaluate the various change management initiatives available to them. The most effective way for leaders to implement change in any organization, large or small, is to first overcome inertia.
One of the major impediments leaders must overcome is the notion that change is hard. This pervasive view is steeped in the uncertainty of the future state of the organization, a lack of confidence in the ability of the leadership and employees to execute effectively. Sometime the reactionary nature of organizational leaders can lead to ambiguity about the company’s strategic direction. In this regard, companies become easily focused on the next new thing and lose focus on the last change initiative, which can be perceived as frantic by the employees!
There are five requirements for effectively executing a change management plan. First, for optimal results, the entire leadership team must commit to the change. Team members from all levels of the organization should be recruited to lead the change initiative to ensure that plans are actionable. Next, organizational leadership should conduct a thorough environmental scan to identify best-of-breed strategies and applicable lessons learned. This is probably the most valuable and often overlooked step in change management initiatives.
Third, organizational leaders should seek feedback from all levels of the organization. The success, or lack thereof, of a change initiative is largely dependent upon the degree of acceptance and use by organizational members. Too often, leaders take a top down view of the organization and instigate change initiatives that are not practical or adaptable. An interesting analogy comes to mind – - while leaders generally have a view of what is going on in the conference room, the employees are the ones with the view of what’s actually going on outside the conference room. The feedback should be leveraged to create action plans to implement the change.
After the plans have been operationalized, leaders should develop and execute a comprehensive communication plan through the entire change process. Set expectations by providing a clear vision of the new state including a plan for how the change will occur. Identify “culture carriers” at every level of the organization to influence stakeholders in and outside of the organization.
Lastly, it is important that organizational leaders conduct a postmortem to capture lessons learned to improve future initiatives. Executing purposeful change requires leaders to constantly monitor and experiment, keeping what works and discarding the rest. With these tools and tips under your belt, change becomes just another day at the office!
WESLEY CARTER DM, authors an advice column that leverages leadership and management strategies to solve common business problems. Carter holds a Doctor of Management (DM) degree with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership, an MBA, and a B.A. in Management. Carter is a partner at KRS Consulting, LLC in Charlotte, NC. If you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org . All submissions become the property of Wesley Carter. Call (704) 992-1211 or email to book an engagement. This content originally appeared in the Charlotte Post.