How to Manage the People Factors during Business Change

When all is said and done, the success of change is based on how committed the people in the organization are to making the change happen and last for years to come. Even if your organization decides to replace its employees with robots, someone still needs to program those robots and control the switches.

(Luckily, artificial intelligence genius Raymond Kurzweil predicts robots will not be as smart as humans until at least 2045.)

So for at least the next few decades, it’s the people that matter. Throughout your change, leadership and employee involvement are two fundamental ways to help manage the people factors and make sure the change is adopted quickly and is accepted as the new way of doing business.

  • Committing to change: Senior leaders drive change by creating a vision for the future, setting the organization’s course for the future, and making sure accountability is assigned in the organization.

  • Actively engaging employees in the change: Changes last when they are visible to employees, and the best way to make change visible is to get employees working on it. Employees are more likely to adopt a new way of doing business when they have been part of the problem-solving process. Leaders can encourage communication, but teams working together to develop the future immediately increase collaboration across departments.

How to deal with negative reactions

Although you and the change team may be jumping up and down with joy to see change happen, not everyone will feel the same way. If change is not handled correctly, negative reactions can get out of hand and potentially derail the entire project.

Keep in mind that the cycle of change is not just about how the change will happen and when the changes will be in place.

As change is introduced, most individuals have some apprehension about what is ahead of them. Change is by definition different, and doing things differently takes effort. Some individuals may be in denial about the need for change or even actively resist the change. Through an active and involving change plan, led by an exceptional change leader, employees begin to explore and eventually adopt the new way of doing business.

As you can probably guess, different employees move through this change cycle at different speeds, and some employees have greater productivity losses than others when working through each of the change stages. Many people have seen early adopters and innovators who change at the speed of light, and many leaders have had to deal with the laggards of change who only move kicking and screaming.

Continuing to focus on the need for change and getting there by rewarding the right behaviors will be your golden key to move you and your employees through the cycle of change quickly and productively, so be sure to praise and reward the early adopters rather than punishing people who resist change.

How to motivate to move forward

Substantial or transformational change in an organization is more involved than a simple improvement or flipping the switch on to a new technology solution. To go the extra mile, employees have to be motivated.

Motivating employees and the organization to move forward comes down to aligning people, financial resources, and time resources with an inspiring strategy. Many leaders are being asked to do more with less, and change often asks that as well.

Align the action plans with sufficient resources to get the job done and make sure the plan is backed by a vision that people can rally behind. Energy, excitement, and motivation come quickly when the right resources, performance measures, and incentives are aligned to strategic change. (Conversely, burnout, false starts, and lack of motivation to change all come from not having the right alignment in the organization.)

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