In the modern working world, change is constant, relentless, and driven by many factors: technology, consumer trends, governmental legislation, integration of different cultures, and more. Add that to the instantaneous nature of today’s communication, and the speed at which these changes affect your organization has never been faster. Because of this, the ability to effectively implement change has become an asset in itself. Change Management is a blossoming field of study in the business and nonprofit community, and companies are finding that using the tools strategies, and tactics from the research gives them a competitive edge.
How to Communicate Change
Dr. Raymond Truitt, Managing Director and Instructional Designer at Ellipsis Design Group, has observed and worked with many companies as they go through organizational and procedural change. In his 20+ years of experience, he found that poor communication is at the heart of the difficulties that organizations encounter when undergoing significant change. This leads to misunderstandings and inefficiencies. For instance, an executive may decide on a change and then communicate it to their managers. The message gets diluted each step down the chain of command. By the time it reaches the employees who perform the critical tasks necessary for the change, the original vision could be lost – leading to corrections which waste time and resources. This top-down approach may seem efficient on paper, but enacting real change requires more dialogue and understanding between departments, management and employees.
Instead of thinking of change as a singular activity, consider it a regular function of work. The constant stream of new technologies makes a company’s nimbleness a key asset for success. So the question shouldn’t be: How do we implement each singular change? It should be: How do we create a change-ready culture?
“One of the big dilemmas today is how to prepare companies to respond to change.” Dr. Truitt told us. “There probably isn’t a cut and dry answer, but part of it is that organizations proactively develop the capability for change. Some core competencies that come to mind include: openness, transparency, collaboration, innovation, agility, and inclusion.”
Each competency is independently important, but they’re collectively critical to effectively implement change in your organization. A deficiency in one area could easily harpoon the whole project.
To learn your team’s strengths and weaknesses, run a change simulation. By using a relaxed setting to play out a hypothetical change, everyone can voice honest concerns and suggestions without worrying about lasting negative consequences.
Setting up a change simulation is easy. It could be done at the office over the course of an afternoon or more in depth with an offsite meeting where you really get to dive in deep. These simulations will help you fix any problems before a real crisis. And when real change happens, everyone will be ready.
Creating a culture of change is no small task, but it can bring great advantages. Once prepared, a workforce will meet new ideas and methods with enthusiasm instead of swallowed concerns.