Managing Change When Optimizing Operational Procedures
As with anything you change in an organization, you need to manage it. The change needs to start at the executive level, and you must demonstrate the importance of the change to maximize buy-in. Your employees are human beings and that means sometimes they view change with anxiety or negativity. Even logical or positive change is met with resistance, and when you start asking people to adjust their daily work, it can create tension.
There is no way to completely escape the turmoil that can sometimes accompany change, but there are ways to better manage the process for success. Some advice from the trenches on managing changes within your organization effectively.
- Don’t rely exclusively on email: While this may seem somewhat counterintuitive, the best way to communicate with your entire organization isn’t always via email. Use email to issue a companywide statement about the change or to announce training on a new procedure but don’t use it to address issues. If you notice a certain person or workgroup isn’t following the new policies, reach out directly to the person or the manager of the team.
- Ensure everyone understands: This relates to the point above. Issuing an email on a procedure change is not the same as everyone understanding the change. Make sure everyone knows who to ask for questions, and get the managers on board to help ensure the changes are made.
- Be prepared for misunderstandings: Change takes time and human interpretations are complex. Be prepared for mistakes to occur and try to positively manage confusion. If someone does make an error, don’t assume they are aware of the proper procedure. When in doubt, opt for a personal conversation with the person and offer assistance in getting them up to speed.
- Always listen: If someone is resisting the change, particularly if that person is in a senior position or has been with the company for a while, talk to them. It may be that the change adds complexity to their job function or that they believe their method is better. Be prepared to hear their way and evaluate it against the new policy to see which makes the most sense. In particular, procedures developed in the silo of administration may be too tedious for the larger organization – just because administrative staff is tasked with doing something one way, doesn’t mean everyone should be.
- Compromise and Simplify: If you realize someone else has a better way or that your new procedure is too complex, be prepared to reevaluate it. Despite something only being in place a short while, there is nothing wrong with revisiting it to determine if there is room to simplify the task, or compromise the procedure while maintaining quality and managing your risk.
- Be smart: Think through your approach, roll out changes when you’re sure they are ready, and be personal. By putting some effort into your delivery and message you can improve your success rate and reduce the potential for frustrating your staff.
Getting a handle on your processes and procedures is imperative to growing your business. Success is better achieved when things are organized, apparent and consistent. There are tools such as SharePoint available to help, but you need to put the labor into getting it set up for optimal effectiveness.
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