Businesses are finding Brexit scenario planning a difficult exercise as so much remains unknown. However, what we can be certain of is that whatever happens, there will be resulting changes that companies will need to plan for and implement.
Globalisation, rapid technological progress and an increasing spotlight on efficiency have made stability and sameness a thing of the past. For many of us, change is the name of the game at work. In fact, if you’re not willing to embrace change you are not ready to lead. Put simply, leadership is not a static endeavour. In fact, leadership demands fluidity, which requires the willingness to recognise the need for change, and the ability to lead change.
While there is little debate that the successful implementation of change can create an extreme competitive advantage, it is not well understood that the lack of doing so can send a company (or an individual’s career) into a death spiral. Companies that pursue and embrace change are healthy, growing, and dynamic organisations, while companies that fear change are stagnant entities on their way to a failure.
The need for change exists in every organisation. If your organisation doesn’t innovate and change in accordance with market driven needs and demands it will fail. The most complex area surrounding change is focusing your efforts in the right areas, for the right reasons, and at the right times.
With most of us now working in constantly connected, always-on, highly demanding work cultures, stress and the risk of burnout are widespread. Since the pace and intensity of contemporary work culture are not likely to change, it’s more important than ever to build resilience skills to effectively navigate your work life. These are particularly important during times of major change, and it is therefore critical that leaders, and their teams, are skilled to effectively build their resilience to the environment that change can create.
So, with the new year here, do you and your team members have the skills to effectively manage and remain resilient to change and to effectively steer your business through the change journeys that Brexit and other challenges may take you on? The good news is that GBS Corporate Training is here to help and offers a range of training options to help you develop the skills you will need. Perhaps most importantly, you need the skills to help your teams progress through the change cycle and see the process as one that is positive and full of opportunities rather than one that instils fear throughout the organisation.
“There is nothing wrong with change...if it is in the right direction.” Winston Churchill
Most organisations have embraced concepts like continuous improvement and efficiency. Leaders and Managers have accepted the challenge of thinking critically about how work is being performed, and by whom.
However, do they take sufficient time to consider how these changes personally and emotionally impact their staff? What is their tolerance for change? Is the company approach to change the right one? Organisational change of any kind can evoke a variety of emotions from employees that can negatively impact company morale and productivity.
According to McKinsey, successful change is a rarity: around 70% of change initiatives ultimately fail. Consequently, an emphasis in business research has been placed on identifying the driving forces behind successful change, which has widely recognised that resistance to change is often its downfall.
Human beings are wired to prefer certainty over uncertainty: one of the downsides to our ability to plan for the future is our ability to worry about it. In a study from the University of Groningen, one group of participants had a greater physical reaction when waiting for an unpredictable lower-level electric shock than a group who were subject to predictable yet higher-level shocks. We would prefer to be in greater expected pain than in lower, unpredictable pain.
So it comes as no surprise that employees can become anxious, worried, and stressed at times of significant change. They want to know what the changes are. Why are the changes being made? How will the changes affect them, and will the changes affect their job status? The key to minimising the impact associated with these emotions is making sure you have an effective change management plan.
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence — it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Drucker
The resistance people experience isn’t directed towards the change per se, but rather towards the products of change. In an organisational context, much of the change employees experience is extrinsically determined — imposed upon us by external forces (the business leaders). This imposition takes away their feeling of control, and if effective communication and involvement are not well-executed, they feel excluded from the events. This creates an environment of fear, scepticism, and disillusion. Inevitably, motivation and productivity will take a hit until a shift in mindset occurs.
No matter how much change we all experience, it still triggers mixed reactions, as there are so many unknowns and variables. These emotions range from anxiety to resistance and for some, but not many, a sense of excitement and anticipation.
Resilience is built by attitudes, behaviours and social supports that can be adopted and cultivated by anyone. Factors that lead to resilience include optimism; the ability to stay balanced and manage strong or difficult emotions; a sense of safety and a strong social support system. The good news is that because there is a concrete set of behaviours and skills associated with resilience, you and your employees can learn to be more resilient.
There are three things that routinely suffer when major changes kick in:
1. Customer focus
Change management is in full-force across all industries, yet many leaders are unprepared to act upon and operationalise the requirements for change to avoid business disruption.
For many organisations, preparedness begins at the top and this means that leadership – across all levels – must have absolute clarity in purpose and focus; there also must be alignment in strategic philosophy and resolution goals.
So many people in today’s pressurised business world struggle to cope with the day to day pressures and demands placed upon them. Most of us handle many relatively small changes on a daily basis, and manage to keep making it through our days relatively unscathed; but if we stop to pay attention, we will notice that all these changes have an impact on us. We may also notice that change impacts us differently from how it appears to impact some of those around us.
For some people change is an energiser, a motivator; in fact, these people may seek out change and appear to thrive on change. For other people, it is just the opposite, and change is experienced as exhausting and demotivating, something to put up with and be endured. For many, it is hard to admit they are struggling to juggle all these demands and so they put on a positive face, whilst inwardly struggling.
Resilience is the ability to work in times of uncertainty and change, emerging better off from the experience. In these times, it falls under management responsibility to devise a plan that will help develop and support their teams effectively, whilst minimising stress.
While resiliency may seem like an obvious trait for a company to pursue, it's seems to be easier said than done. It's more important than long-term planning, because as we all know, the best-laid business plans come into conflict - especially when navigating the inevitable obstacles that require organisational improvements or major transformations.
According to an article in Forbes, resilient organisations have sound leadership at all levels and strong cultures founded on trust, accountability, and agility. They have a foundation of meaningful core values that all members of the team believe deeply in and a sense of team unity beyond what you find in many organisations. They also have a tendency to show consistent and better-than-average profitability year after year.
Whether it’s new leadership, a reorganisation, a merger or acquisition, successfully leading a team through change is hard, and it presents both opportunities and challenges. To maximise benefits and minimise stress, leaders need to be organised, strategic, and almost overly prepared.
The following are our top tips for managing change effectively during 2019:
During change, we should be aware of our behaviours and feelings. We must understand how we approach change, and pay attention to our personal transition through cycles of change.
As leaders and managers, we should also be mindful that our team members and peers may be experiencing the change differently than us. We should aim to be empathetic and help our staff and colleagues move through the change cycles where we can. Rewarding desired behaviours and celebrating successes should be an integral part of every leader’s change management process.
Acting as a role model
Even if our initial reactions are ones of panic and fear, we should work to calm our thoughts and look for the positive aspects of the changes we are facing. What new opportunities will arise?
People generally prefer working with more positive individuals, and this is especially the case during periods of change. As leaders, it’s crucial that we diligently and repeatedly share the reasoning for changes we enact, as well as our vision for the future. Our staff should be able to look to us to model desired actions and behaviours.
No matter what your level in the business, you have a part to play in organisational change. You should try to understand the drivers of change and the desired results. Look for ways to contribute to the results and consider volunteering for some of the new activities that inevitably arise in times of change.
Start preparing for change as soon as you can. You have an opportunity learn skills, acquire attributes, and take actions now that will help you contribute to successful change.
“Change before you have to.” Jack Welch
Think about the skills you currently possess and what areas you want and need to develop further. As a manager and/or leader, you should evaluate how you will lead through change. As change leaders, you must make sure that you have a change management plan in place that will help others along through cycles of change.
The best organisations succeed because leaders steer coordination across teams, maximising the talent and versatility of various players. Well-positioned teams weather change together, evolving collectively.
The role of the manager is to not only be cognisant of the impact change may have on their team, but also be able to lead them through the transition as smoothly as possible, to restore morale, focus and productivity before the next change kicks in.
Learning and development provided at key pivotal times within a business can mean the difference between ‘making’ or ‘breaking’ it. GBS has a range of solutions which can support those going through change now and in the future. Our solutions can be structured around the change management needs within your particular business to help better prepare your staff for the changing landscape of the future.
The GBS Change Management course has been designed to equip your managers and leaders with all the skills they need to lead their people successfully through each and every change, and back to business as usual, and perhaps to even higher levels of performance.
We all work in an ever-changing environment and quite often find that change has been mismanaged, many companies forget that any improvement made to processes immediately starts a change process.
To successfully manage change is more than just knowing what tools and techniques to use. Softer skills are critical, such as understanding why people will resist change and how to help them and ourselves through the Change Curve, how to involve staff in the change process, how and when to communicate change and how to support team members throughout the process.
The GBS Resilience and Personal Well-being course has been designed for anyone who would benefit from building up the resilience of themselves or if a manager, help develop the resilience of their staff, which will greatly improve the ability to manage through change.
For those looking towards a qualification, the GBS Managing Change and Continual Improvement course has been designed, in conjunction with the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), to equip managers, team leaders and improvement leads with the practical skills, tools, and structured techniques to manage change in the context of process management and improvement. Completion of two Practitioner level courses, together with demonstrable work experience, can lead to the gold standard Chartered Quality Professional (CQP) status, which is recognised alongside other roles with Chartered status.
Get in touch with GBS today to get ready for inevitable change in 2019.