Change management tips for the modern enterprise

Change. It’s constant, inevitable, and sometimes hard to accept. But for enterprises, it can be especially difficult to manage. If you have thousands of employees and offices across the globe, changing the way things work can be severely disruptive.

Whether you’re migrating a tool to the cloud or rearranging management, switching things up can be hard on any team. Avoid uncertainty by keeping these tips in mind for the next big change at your office:

Build Change Into Your Company’s DNA

Create a culture that’s accepting of change. While you can’t always control the expectations of employees, you can set the tone for a company-wide approach to change.

Let’s say you’re in IT and migrating a highly popular service to the cloud. Having a user base that’s open to new technology and comfortable with updating personal workflows would be perfect. But let’s face it—that’s rarely the case. In reality, people are conditioned by the tools they already use and love. From note-taking to document creation, we all have our own unique methods of getting things done. Ask us to change things up, and we’ll likely have difficulties adjusting. The secret is to cut through this comfort zone and nurture a change-ready culture.

If you frequently project a company vision that’s progressive and dynamic, this messaging will trickle down and prevent people from becoming complacent. It eliminates assumptions that things will alway be the same, so when a major change does take place, it’s far from unexpected. Keep this vision alive in mission statements, staff meetings, and hiring interviews, and you’ll have a much easier time preventing pockets of change-allergic resistance.

Open Communication Channels

Recognize that the moment you announce a big change, people will question its affect on their lives. How will this impact me? What will I have to do to adjust?

Anticipate that any major development will create a natural lull in productivity as your employees spend time reacting to their new environment.

To make things smoother, try putting yourself in the shoes of the departments or teams affected. Instead of simply laying out the change, its impact, and a game plan for execution, take time afterwards for questions. Give people a chance to speak up, express concerns, and work through the change on an individual level.

Design Interactive Trainings

Arm your employees with the resources to interact with or educate themselves on a new change, and you’ve already won half the battle.

For IT changes, this move is especially helpful. If you’re deploying a new technology, set aside time for group training sessions so people can start familiarizing themselves with the product or service. Provide them with a variety of resources, from documents and videos, to interactive tutorials. By doing so, you’ll package the change in a way that’s easy to understand and simple to pick-up.

The difficult part is getting people to actually integrate the technology into their daily workflows. During this phase, there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. People will adapt and progress at their own unique pace, so give them time to work through it.

Accept the Change Cycle

Familiarize yourself with the natural process people go through when dealing with change. One great resource is the Change Cycle. It begins with doubt, loss, and feelings of discomfort, then moves on to discovery, understanding, and integration. Teams will work through this cycle at different speeds, so don’t expect to have everyone’s timeline mapped out.

Once a few weeks have passed, reach out to those that might still be struggling to give them a chance to raise concerns or ask follow-up questions. The key is to have empathy and respect for your team’s right to react.  

Change doesn’t have to be hard. As a leader, keep things transparent, promote a change-ready culture, and give people the space and resources to adapt. No matter how large your organization is, you’ll be working towards a future of smoother transitions.

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