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Planning for Change in an Organisation: 5 Critical Steps - FocusIMS

Planning for Change in an Organisation: 5 Critical Steps

Learn about the five critical steps for planning for change in an organisation plus one amazing tool to make it quick and easy.

Organisations must constantly adjust to new circumstances. Therefore, business processes must also change continuously. We previously discussed how to optimise a process for better efficiency.

The dynamics of change can vary widely. But there are some commonalities. A change can fall under one of these three categories:

  • Changes to the corporate hierarchy
  • Changes related to workflow reorganisation
  • Changes in group dynamics and worker conduct

Change can affect the current “core” of an organisation, like its structures and procedures. Such a change means:

  •  Creating new divisions or combining existing groups
  • Adding automation and improving efficiency to workflows
  • Implementing new processes
  • Adding new responsibilities and modifying existing ones
  • Imposing new demands on employees

Planning for change in an organisation means rearranging the mechanics, social fabric, and employee behaviour. 

When Should You Start Change Management?

Change becomes necessary in organisations for various reasons. Among the factors that spark change are the following:

1. Significant economic, social, or climatic catastrophes

September 11, 2001 was the most disastrous tragedy that changed several organisations and sectors, like airlines and travel. Many businesses in the financial services sector had to adapt in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. And the COVID-19 crisis heightened the demand for reform and introduced additional difficulties.

2. Performance Gap

A performance gap is a discrepancy between desired and actual results. It is a problem that might arise at any level. An individual salesperson may fall short of their quota, the sales team as a whole may not meet its objectives, or the sales process itself may be too slow to react to customers’ needs.

3. The emergence of new technologies

Inevitably, technological advancements will affect all businesses. Current organisational structures might not support new approaches to decision-making. Hence, planning for change in an organisation could include acquiring new managerial, negotiation, and social skills.

4. New legislation

Businesses must follow several rules and regulations for them to thrive. That requires staying abreast of the best practices, which are constantly evolving. Failure to comply will result in severe penalties and maybe legal issues.

5. Radical developments like digitalisation

Keeping up with the competition requires that businesses undergo a digital transformation. However, transitioning to digital might be challenging for some. When it comes to digital transformation, the success of any given endeavour depends heavily on the quality of the change management implemented.

How to Plan for Change Management

1. Get the company ready for the change.

To pursue and successfully implement change, a company must be ready on both the practical and cultural levels. 

The manager’s primary goal during the planning phase is to ensure that staff members are on board with the new direction. They call attention to the myriad of issues plaguing the company that is driving the need for change. These issues may be sowing the seeds of discontent. Having employees who will implement the change is a great way to reduce any opposition or difficulties.

2. Create a plan for change.

Managers are responsible for creating a comprehensive and practical strategy for implementing change once the organisation is ready.

The strategy needs to describe the following:

  • What long-term objectives does this change help the company to pursue?
  • Where should we place the bar for success?
  • Which measurements require adjustment?
  • Where do we start when assessing the current state of affairs?
  • Participants in the project and the team that created it
  • Who is going to be in charge of coordinating the transition?
  • At what point does a responsible party need to give their approval?
  • Whose job is it to put everything into action?

While a well-thought-out strategy is crucial, it’s also necessary to leave room in the execution plan for the unexpected challenges that may crop up.

3. Put the changes into effect.

Once you have a plan, the next thing is to carry out the actions specified to bring about the desired changes. It may require adjustments to the organisation’s structure, strategy, systems, procedures, employee behaviours, or other factors.

Change managers should encourage their staff to follow the plan. It is critical to achieving the initiative’s objectives and recognising the progress made thus far. They should also foresee such problems and take steps to eliminate or lessen their impact. Reminding team members of the organisation’s vision throughout the implementation process is crucial.

4. Integrate new methods into the established routines.

Change managers are responsible for preventing returning to the status quo. It is especially crucial when implementing changes to business processes within an organisation, such as those affecting workflows, culture, and strategy. Without a proper plan, workers can revert to the old way, especially during the transitional phase.

It will be more challenging for the organisation to revert to old ways if the new ones are ingrained into the culture. Change management strategies that involve instituting new organisational structures, controls, and reward systems are worth exploring.

5. Examine progress and assess results.

Finishing a change initiative is no guarantee of its success. Conducting a project post-mortem can help leaders learn more about the success or failure of a change endeavour. As a bonus, it may provide valuable data for future efforts to effect change.

What Makes Organisational Change Successful?

What distinguishes the companies that successfully undertake change projects from those that don’t?

1. Participation and Dedication

The level of ownership and commitment of the organisation’s leaders is the most crucial factor impacting the outcome of a change. 

It’s important to note that alignment is only one part of ownership and commitment. Commitment is the emotional burden that motivates independent action. And it grows in intensity when the stakes are high, and failure could have adverse effects. 

Successful changes promote ownership by establishing clear accountability for specified targets and incentivising crucial individuals.

2. Having the Ideal Leadership Style 

Organisations that excel at implementation emphasise challenging and supportive leadership above authoritative and consultative styles. Leaders that are effective at getting things done push and encourage their subordinates while smoothing over bumps caused by difficult choices.

Maintaining such a rate of transformation requires a lot of work and effort. For instance, a worldwide head of a company’s transformation initiative makes sure she or one of her subordinates is present at every meeting to discuss significant milestone reports. Her leadership by example emphasises the significance of the transition to the organisation and inspires regional management to get on board.

3. An Appropriate Level of Noise

Brilliant implementers generate excitement for change by involving the entire company. They know that few workers care about their company’s stock price, not the ROI. 

Leaders cascade an engaging change story through the entire organisation instead of flooding employees with generic messages. It’s tricky to balance making your announcement universally applicable and tailoring it to your unique audience. 

Planning for change in an organisation is a lengthy process. The human resource requirements will inevitably shift over time. The narrative of the transformation must also evolve if it is to keep people interested.

The change story at a firm mulling the closure of some of its facilities centred on stopping a sense of victim mentality. The message and team excitement could have faded once the transition began and the facilities were no longer in danger of closure. 

As an alternative, the transformation team rode the wave of success from before. It reworked the narrative to emphasise the group’s and the industry’s shared sense of pride in its position as a global frontrunner. Since then, the company has consistently outperformed its rivals and delivered year-over-year growth.

4. The Proper Support Group

An organisation responsible for managing the change initiative and tracking its progress, such as a project management office (PMO), is essential to sustaining ownership and commitment during a significant transition. A somewhat senior individual who reports to and has the authority of a C-suite executive should head the PMO. 

Therefore, a potential C-level executive should aim to land the position of PMO leader since it is a stepping stone for strong performers. Although the most qualified leader for the PMO should come from within the organisation, bringing in an experienced leader from the outside is more productive than an inexperienced leader from the inside who can’t motivate the team.

5. Project Prioritisation

Some attempts at transformation fail because the organisation is trying to do too much all at once. Therefore, a company’s inaction is as significant as its actions. However, a comprehensive prioritisation approach is necessary for the success of a change. 

Existing efforts, for instance, should be subjected to the same level of scrutiny as new ones. Zombie projects waste time and energy, particularly that of top-level management. 

6. Taking Precautions 

A thorough grasp of the scope and nature of every opportunity, timing, and any potential roadblocks to delivery is the foundation of any effective prioritisation process. 

Prioritisation frequently takes into account both value and convenience. This method has its uses. But the ease requirements are often arbitrary and serve to entrench bias further. Teams may overestimate the risk associated with desirable projects while undervaluing less promising alternatives.

Thus, it is essential to do a thorough risk assessment based on probability and severity. Including all potential negative consequences in a risk analysis is critical. Repercussions can include:

  • Noncompliance with safety or regulatory standards
  • Loss of customers or key employees
  • Diversion of intended benefits

When conducted properly, a review can help combat the allure of large sums of data and the resulting propensity to ignore problems. Including a wide range of stakeholders prevents the prioritisation process from being gamed to favour pet initiatives.

7. Reducing the Impact and Shifting Priorities

It is necessary to rank and prioritise activities based on their risk-adjusted value. 

Leaders can gain a portfolio view by considering mitigation techniques, including preventative actions, backup plans, and monitoring. They can then make educated guesses about the company’s future based on the total cumulative risk they are willing to accept. 

This method can clarify the risk-effort trade-offs for a large company. It can change the conversation from “That’s too hard” to “How can we make this easier?” As a result, you’ll carry out high-priority initiatives more quickly and put others with lower barriers to entry but higher potential costs on hold.

Instead of being a one-and-done exercise, prioritisation is an essential tool to allocate resources in response to changing circumstances and new information. Thus, investing in implementation pilots that work well is crucial. 

Organisations with solid execution tend to have honed processes that tightly manage implementation pilots. But they also guarantee that the most important takeaways are absorbed.

8. Tools and Skills

Successful change programs have access to individuals with the knowledge and drive to handle ever-evolving, unknown problems. These companies fill critical posts based on merit. They release successful candidates from their existing responsibilities rather than hiring anyone available. 

There is a clear understanding of who does what and how they should use the given resources. The work employees do falls squarely inside their areas of expertise or are a good fit for their abilities. All staff members get continual mentoring and feedback.

Sadly, most businesses don’t begin from this vantage point, which results in skill gaps between the team and the demands of the change. As a result of the discontinuity, the company will have new expectations of its employees, from the technical needs of their jobs to how they interact with their superiors, peers, and subordinates.

How to Use FocusIMS to Plan for Change

In the last few weeks, we’ve had many questions about the planning area in FocusIMS.

It’s great to see many businesses’ improvements between audit cycles using the planning function in FocusIMS.

We’ve recently added the planning actions checklist, validating whether you have considered all critical actions. It includes the following functions:

  • Steps to ensure the integrity of the systems
  • Address necessary resources
  • Allocate and update responsibilities

And then, we need to ensure that we include actions for integrating those new processes or systems into “business as normal”.

Once you’ve checked these items, tick each and hit submit. It will ensure that your actions get you there and make your planning as successful as possible.

I’ve seen a few software implementations lately that have missed having deliverable actions, responsibilities, and expected completions. And 12 months later, they’re still not fully implemented.

All I can do is help you along the way. We are available via chat, email, and phone if you have any questions. Just reach out, and we are more than happy to help.

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