Great customer experiences do not happen in isolation. You need all teams across the entire business to align with the goal of putting the customer at the center of every decision. This is an overwhelming task that requires grit and commitment from those who want to make it happen. However, tools like organizational change management can help you.
Change management is a framework for managing the impact of new business processes, changes in organizational structure, or cultural changes within a business.
The initial “pre” step to successfully implementing any kind of change in the business is to fully understand the social dynamics of change itself. Chip Heath, author of How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, suggests:
“Consider how change initiatives are typically rolled out. In many organizations, a change initiative consists of 35 slides in a PowerPoint deck analyzing the reasons for the change. There’s nothing in the deck that helps employees believe that ‘We’re the kind of people who can successfully make this change’.
In any organizational change situation, there will be setbacks, times of confusion,” Chip continues. “In the change plans of big organizations, there is a planning phase and an execution phase, but no slot in the middle for a wandering-around-in-the-dark phase. We pretend we’ll jump straight from planning to brilliant execution.”
“As a top leader, you should make people realize that there will be difficulties, but that those difficulties aren’t going to prevent ultimate success… Pay attention to creating an emotional case for change, not just an analytical one. Scale up bright-spot successes. And use your power as a top leader to smooth the path to change. Your people are ready to step up to the plate, but if systems or procedures are getting in the way of change, you are the one with the power to eliminate them.”
The 10 Steps For Leading Your Team Towards Change
Understanding how change works will help you gain the support you need from other teams to put the customer at the center of the business. This includes the budget to equip the business with the right tools to do the job. Ultimately, understanding change will help you bring all the players (people, tools, etc) you need together to meet your goals.
Change is an emotional process. Your goal may be rational, but the dynamics behind it and what your team will experience is mostly an emotional process. For most people, change (any type of change) brings anxiety. Acknowledging that will help you develop better communication strategies to move individuals and teams closer to the expected outcome.
In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described five stages of grief in her book, On Death And Dying. These stages represent the normal range of feelings people experience when dealing with change in their lives, including in the workplace.
These stages may feel dramatic at first sight, but we all go through them (in one way or another) as we navigate through challenges at work. Sometimes, we jump from one stage to another and sometimes we linger in the negative states until we can make sense of what’s going on.
With that in mind, here are the 10 key steps to take before implementing any change with your team:
- Have a strong rationale about why the changes are required. Be specific about the desired outcomes.
- Address how the changes are going to affect each individual.
- Explain with clarity how each team member can contribute to desired outcome. Establishing ownership is crucial for team buy-in.
- Make sure your people understand that it’s not going to be easy and that setbacks are normal. Help them understand that you are not expecting them to adjust overnight.
- Identity when team members show resistance. This may be a sign that you haven’t offered enough background information or haven’t considered individual needs.
- Start small. Build stepping stones into your transition process to avoid shock.
- Co-create the process of change. Involve all your team members to be part of the design for the new process. Or, at the very least, ask them to generate ideas that can offer a better way for implementation. Like Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
- Be persistent. When things go wrong, your focus on learning and educating your team will help you all move forward together.
- Equip your team with the processes and tools they may need to embrace the changes.
- Eliminate as much friction as possible. Help them understand that you are open to their feedback and that you expect they may not be 100% on board with the changes immediately.