“The Only Thing That is Constant Is Change” -Heraclitus
By Khurram Ahmad CEO of Smart IS International
Any organization that is striving to do better is undergoing a constant change. Managing this change and communicating it through the organization allows for growth and lack of it ends producing chaos.
What is “Change”? Understanding this will be the first step in managing the effects of change through the organization. This paper will give a brief introduction into this topic. The reader is encouraged to take this as a seedling and expand it based on their respective challenges.
Any organization, big or small, is undergoing a constant change. There are personnel changes due to growth or attrition, there are policy changes based on government regulations or internal audits, there are structural changes going on due to growth challenges or cost containment in a downsizing effort. Regardless of the change or the need for the change, the successful outcome at the end is only when the change gets managed through its course both in how the change happens and how it gets communicated.
Take for example a new hire into the organization. Normally the new hire comes through HR, gets their paperwork done, and is now ready to work. However, if HR had no prior knowledge of the new hire, a disruption occurs. Similarly, HR send the person to the floor, but the supervisors were not ready to take them in, or training is not going to start for another week etc. Organizations to meet this challenge generally employ a workflow system where every step triggers communications to respective stakeholders, sets up appointments and allows for time in their schedule to accommodate the change.
Consider an organization that needs to downsize to meet the cost containment challenges. An abrupt change without proper communication opens the flood gates in the organization and people may start to leave in panic. The same change when done with proper communication through the rank and file, and with managing the cost with buy in from various members of the organization allows to build confidence and good will with the employees and they can understand the need behind downsizing.
I must stress here that the examples given above are for major changes in an organization and generally all organizations do a decent job in managing such changes. The failure of proper Change Management is exhibited in a much smaller scale, that ends up costing the organizations a lot of money due to how widespread it gets. I am talking about managing the change for Software and Hardware in an organization. Strong control minded organizations deploy change control mechanism on every peripheral making sure no change can be made without a central approval process. And when a change does occur, it is logged, and older versions saved. Organizations that fail to put such strong controls end up having regular issues around their staff losing productivity due to non-standard setups and failed processes.
In conclusion, I will stress that change management needs to be embraced and championed in an organization. Always understand the “Human” aspect of change management and put good controls to manage this. Remember that people make mistakes, and processes and check points allow to catch these. Next remember that no one can be above change management. So, start enforcing it at the top and ensure compliance at all levels. Change Management needs to be ingrained in every level of the organization. When the need arises, communicate the change and explain it in a formal manner. Understand the delicacy of the change and the impact it may have on a section of your population (especially if there can be cultural impacts) and manage it accordingly. All changes need to be ownership driven. The ownership may transfer and the change progresses but must always have an owner. All changes can take a side turn and produce unplanned results. The key in Change Management will be to expect the unexpected and plan for it. Create Contingency plans and put them into action as needed. Lastly, remember that the change will be carried out by individuals in the organization. We cannot remove the user component from this and the best way to manage this is good reinforcement strategy at an individual level. Organizations setup regular training sessions around change management, provide performance bonuses in recognition of good practices and conversely remove people standing in the way of change.