Whether it's a company wide or department change, you still have to motivate your team to understand, participate and accept the required changes. In order to motivate your staff, you need to plan. . . plan. . . plan. What do you need to plan?
-Understand what needs to change. Describe in detail the issues and include your key staff as part of the process. It may be helpful to use a mind-mapping tool that can help you break out all the potential issues. Check out mind mapping software for a simple solution to mapping out a problem or a solution.
-What are the objectives of the change? Need to be specific here. . . create a list of outcomes or values you want to implement during the change. Whether you are changing a brand image or introducing a new product, you need to create a vision. Even if the change is small, include the objectives. This is what drives the change.
-Plot out the risks of not changing as well as changing. Risks are always part of business and to implement change the risks of not changing must be greater than changing.
-Design potential solutions that will correct the problem. It's important that the solution match the culture of the department or company. If it doesn't then you will have a two-tier change, which could potentially create more resistance to the change.
-Don't move forward until you fully understand what the change entails. The more steps in the new process or the greater the number of people involved in the change, the more complex the change will be. Use the mind-mapping tool to flush out all the different parts of the change.
-Include the individuals who will be impacted by the change. Allow them to be part of the process. . . either in uncovering all the different components of the problem or as part of the solution. It really depends on the people involved. If you have professionals on your staff, they may have strong analytical abilities and could add a lot to the planning process.
Note: Keep in mind that most employees will react. . . no matter what their position is within the organization. Sometimes managers fault by thinking that professionals are more mature in their reactions. They can be, but I've also seen individuals who were in management or professional roles react negatively to change. This happens when the employee feels they or their position is in jeopardy. So. . . don't make assumptions about people. . .instead do your research about your staff and create a plan that includes a whole range of potential reactions.
-Stress the benefits - include in your planning all the benefits the change will provide to the people and to the organization (department).
-Plan for training. . . as with any change, you do have to train individuals how to perform the new process. The more complex the change, the more extensive the training needs to be. Training is continuous until the change is fully implemented. As part of your planning, include different ways to present the information. Since employees absorb information in different ways. . .include in your training program reading materials, visual aids and interactive exercises to offer the information in different ways. If you have trainers on your staff, they can be instrumental in building the training plan. Otherwise, you can get outside support for this part of your planning.
-Your communication plan. . . . this has to be a robust project plan. If you think that you have created enough communication message and different mediums of distribution. . . stop and add some more. Communication is critical to the success of any change.
The above points are provided to start you thinking. If your change is small, then this information is enough to guide you. If the change is big, you will need a professional to drive the project. Keep in mind that change occurs at the employee level, so consider not only the business objectives but also how to include your employees in your planning.
Pat Brill is the author of the blog “Managing Employees" http://www.ManagingEmployees.net, “The Secrets of a Successful Time Manager" http://www.SuccessfulTimeManager.com and “Manager's Guide to Performance Improvement." http://www.GuideToPerformance.com.You can reach Pat at pat@TheInfoCrowd.com