Let’s Talk ChangeWith the economy on its downward swing, I find that more of the companies I am working with are looking at very drastic alternatives to save money, downsize and implement cost effective procedures and policies to meet this challenge. The need for change is apparent, what the change should be is more vague. Investors and other stakeholders look at bottom lines skeptically and the immediate response to a down-turn is “where can we cut to survive?” While implementing some of these drastic changes will save money in the short term, and may even shore up a shaky standing for stakeholders, the long-term effects in terms of our customers and the loyalty of our staff will ultimately suffer greatly.Before attempting any change management within your company it is very important that you take a hard look at excesses and whether the results of the change is what you are looking for or if they are just a stop-gap measure to get the company over a hump.Team Support and Team BuildingI have found in working with a diverse group of staff that, for the most part, they are a very forgiving bunch. If the vision changes mid-stream, many of your staff will, at the very least, attempt to adjust their efforts to meet your vision. The key to successful support and building a vibrant team though involves a bit more effort and fortitude than most leadership teams are willing to put forth.Changing goals, visions, policies, procedures, etc., on a regular basis serves to disrupt the flow of a team. It also tends to confuse your employees and make them leery about implementing changes because they know that a new change is just around the corner.Change Management StrategyIt is important that a change management strategy be completely and thoroughly thought out before even the blueprint of a draft is distributed among stakeholders. In creating your change management strategy you will want to address the following areas:

  • Cost – If your change management strategy is going to involve a change in the dynamic of your team. Or, is going to require more staff, consultants, etc., to get off the ground, you will need to win over your stakeholders and investors in addition to your staff. This is going to require that you do a bit more homework than you would have to do in a better economic climate. You will need to show, not only the return on investment (ROI) from the change, but also the long-term cost savings to your stakeholders. You will also need to be able to show your teams the benefit of their investment (BOI). While lay-offs are the most popular trend of a down market, we all know that this is more costly in the long-term because when business picks up you will either have to hire back laid off individuals for more money, or you will need to hire new and less experienced people who, while enthusiastic, will have a long learning curve that will have to be worked around for several months.
  • ROI – Stakeholders and Investors are generally interested in the bottom line. You will need to create a prospectus for your change plan just as you did when you created your company. You will need to anticipate and answer those questions that will come up. In many cases, stakeholders and investors are even more leery of change management implementation than staff since the bottom line is not always clearly visible. It is important that you get buy-in from all stakeholders before moving your change management proposal to it’s next step.
  • BOI – Once you have a clear vision and goal to support your change management proposal, it is important that you begin with team building around the change. Don’t wait to let staff know that change management is being implemented. Allow staff the same courtesy as you do your other stakeholders and present the benefits of the change management proposal to staff in team building sessions. Include the adjusted vision and goals. Be sure that they understand the reasons and necessity of the change and allow staff to make a personal investment in the change management proposal.
  • Review – Make sure that you have created tools that will track progress of your change management implementation. Your tracking tool should contain dates for target goals to be met. When setting targets be sure that you have a low target, on-target, and above-target goal for each date. Your low target should be the lowest achievable goal that can be met to succeed and the high target should be at least two and a half times what the on-target goal is. In other words, aim for the moon and if you end up in the stars you are still ahead. Be very thoughtful when choosing your targets as once you have set them, until the last milestone is reached, they must remain the same. If your goals are too low you will lose momentum before the end date, if too high, your staff and teams will not be motivated to reach their optimum.
  • Motivating the Team – Teams are motivated by two things, competition and success. Be sure that your change management implementation goals are among teams of staff. Even two teams of two people each is effective. When tracking, make sure that you show the success of each team, side by side so that they can see where the challenges and opportunities lie for success. This is a highly motivating tool to reach goals and will prove one of your best techniques for overall success of implementation. It is important that each team be empowered to brainstorm and create solutions to problems that arise proactively. As a leader you are a coach, you are not on either side, and if you must make each decision it will negate the effects of your change management efforts.
  • Reward – For each milestone achievement there should be a reward. Plan your rewards before you begin the change process. In this way you will be setting yourself and your teams up for success rather than failure. If you and the teams know what the reward is and that it is waiting, then both you and your teams will “expect” success. As a team, your group will be much more likely to resolve small issues and bring you, the leader, the larger issues before they become burdensome to the success of the goal you have chosen.

Final ThoughtsThe economy today is either a cup half full, or a cup half empty. I prefer the cup half full. This is the perfect time for you to reassess your company’s goals and vision. To create a unique niche in your field, to implement change management techniques that will carry you through. Yes, you must be more cost conscious and most creative, but this is the perfect time to bring in someone with fresh eyes who can assist you with creating the dynamic team and vibrant company that you have worked so hard to build. By following the simple steps above, you will be well on your way to a great new beginning instead of just making it through the current economic crisis.Author: Ellen JacksonArticle Source: EzineArticles.com

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