November 20, 2020
5 min read

Change Management: Why It’s important and what you can do about it

Written by
Wong Meng Chern

Effective change management alleviates tension and creates a smooth transition process for change to occur. Here are some practical steps you can take to facilitate this process in your organisation.

As the business landscape continues to diversify and grow, it is an added advantage for businesses to learn how to effectively execute change. It is imperative especially for those that are in the front lines of implementing change within an organisation. As Human Resource (HR) personnel deal with every aspect of an employee’s lifecycle, it is of greater importance that HR not only leads and initiates organisational change, but also further assist individuals throughout the organisation to embrace the change.

In this article, we discuss the importance of change management and the practical steps you can take to facilitate this process in your organisation.

What is it and Why it matters

In recent years, organisations have seen change management play an increasingly pivotal role especially during the implementation of new technology. It is a widely acknowledged fact that people fear change, and more so the fear of innovative technology taking over the workplace. Such fear often prompts resistance in embracing change specifically in firms seeking to implement new technology.

To overcome this fear, we need to help employees better understand change, which could further encourage a work environment that is receptive and open to change. Effective change management helps in alleviating tension and creating a smooth transition process for change to occur.

In essence, change management is a formal way of communication among employees. It conveys the reason change is happening, how it impacts them, and what day to day interactions would be like for them eventually. Ensuring that employees are well informed from the very beginning facilitates transition and shortens the amount of time taken when executing change.

Employees can be even more engaged if they are receptive to change. It is a virtuous cycle as the more engaged your employees are, the quicker change can be adopted. Hastening the process could eventually save the company’s time and resources. In a separate article, we discussed how engaged employees contribute more to business objectives.

With an open line of communication within the organisation, you are able to reassure employees and set a standard of what’s to come. In time, this increases trust among employees and potentially, even in the decisions of senior management.

Given that people will always fear the unknown, developing a strategy to lessen said fear would be ideal to overcome it. Setting a guideline for change in the initial stages and maintaining consistency can also help create a more resilient and innovative work environment.

Approaches to the Change Management process

The following are several approaches to effect change in the context of implementing a new HR system.

1. Roadshows

In larger organisations spanning nationwide or even on a regional/global scale, it can be difficult to reach out to everyone in the organisation to effect change. Some companies conduct roadshows where they send HR personnel to educate and raise awareness to employees on the implementation of a new system.

In one particular case from my experience, a new learning system was recently implemented in an organisation. The training and development team was then sent to various office locations around the country to conduct sharing and interactive Q&A sessions with their colleagues.

2. Internal Communications

This is a pre-emptive measure to communicate internally with staff for them to anticipate change. Examples of internal communications, could be as simple as weekly email sharing on what’s new or exciting going on in the company. Other forms of these communications would be the use of informative graphics, e-brochures, banners and so on.

In another example, a pocket-sized handbook detailing simple steps on applying for leave and submitting claims were provided to all staff for easy reference. These handbooks were made to fit within their employee access card holders so at any time, employees could easily refer on the go.

3. Change Agents

Similarly, in some cases, staff within their respective departments are carefully selected to become change agents. In other words, early adopters of the change. They are provided with early access to trainings, system testing and learning materials to get familiar with. When the system is released for official use, they are able to assist others around them with the new day to day transactions. We also discussed finding champions for change in a separate article.

4. Trainings

Training is the cornerstone for building knowledge regarding change and the sharpening the required skills to effectively utilize a system. Ensuring that people receive training at the right time has to be a priority of change management. Once people are aware of the need for change, training can be delivered suitably.

Change management is enhanced when trainings are further tailored to suit the needs of various groups of employees. Employees could differ based on their skillsets and knowledge. These training requirements will then be the baseline for the project team to design and deliver training programs.

How to ensure successful change

Change management is an ongoing process. Knowing this, how do we sustain successful change? In this case, monitoring the rate of adoption is instrumental in understanding how well employees have embraced the change and if they are actively supporting it.

Putting things into practice, most HR systems are able to generate reports that churn out adoption rates, or similar types of reports such as how frequently accessed the system is, on a monthly basis across an organization. By doing so, we will be able to assess the gaps and begin questioning: How are people embracing change? Why are there others that have not? Which methods were effective in instilling change?

Addressing these questions, enables an organisation to take further steps in ensuring continual increase in adoption rates and sustaining change management.

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