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How To
#MANAGINGUP

How To Manage Change Inside Your Workplace

BY
The Highrise Team
November 12, 2021

Introducing and managing change in an organization is not an easy endeavor. It requires deliberate planning and execution by the leadership and management teams to keep everyone in the loop. 

The right strategy for change management minimizes resistance and tension. Executive coaching, leadership coaching, or mentoring by those who have done it successfully is recommended for anyone jittery about how changes will impact them/their organization.

Why is managing change in workplace important?

Humans are wired to resist change as our brains have evolved to be on a constant lookout for threats. In the work-place setting, team members often perceive change as a threat to their job security, status, and other work-related privileges.. 

 The natural tendency to resist change in the workplace must be balanced with the reality that organizations must always embrace change if they are to survive in a competitive and often unforgiving environment; the burden is on management teams to strike a balance between the two. i.e., introducing change and preparing team members on expected changes. 

While this sounds simple enough on paper, effectively managing changes in the workplace is not a walk in the park and most initiatives fail

Two executives working on change management process

Not a new Phenomenon

The difficulty leaders often run into when trying to make changes is not a new phenomenon. 

The Italian diplomat and philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli, in his highly celebrated book, The Prince, had to say this about change:

It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

In a more recent and probably more scientific example, IBM interviewed 1,130 CEOs for its third biennial Global CEO study and found that most leaders lacked confidence in their ability to make changes in their organizations. 

In essence, the combination of multiple variables such as the resistance to change mentioned above , poor timing, and other factors create significant hurdles to implementing changes within an organization.

Nevertheless, there are tried-and-tested ways to overcome this resistance to change and effectively manage change within the workplace.

Three executives talking about the change management process

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Managing Change in the workplace

Managing change in the workplace can be a hectic process. However, with the right strategy and effort, one can manage resistance to change and implement and maintain the necessary changes. Here are the 7 ways to manage change in the workplace:

1.   Prepare for Change

Changes within an organization are often multifaceted, and putting ideas into action cannot happen without prior preparation.  

Preparing for change could include a broad set of actions such as hiring new team members, creating new teams, or adjusting the work environment to suit incoming changes better.

To ensure that you are ready for change, use the following checklist:

  • Study and define the extent and scope of changes needed
  • Assign clear roles and responsibilities while simultaneously establishing ground rules and reporting guidelines
  • Define and communicate the reasons for the planned changes
  • Experiment with multiple ideas while you refine plans
  • Adjust management capabilities to suit the scope of changes needed
  • Consider team and system capacity to handle change
  • Consult team members and listen to their concerns and feedback

2.   Replace Old Habits with New Ones

Replacing old habits with new ones gives team members alternatives. Cutting out old habits without options could backfire and lead to a failure to implement changes.

You can replace habits through the following criterion:

  • Study components of patterns to understand how they emerge, what reinforces the practices, and how you can shift the habits
  • Identify the practices that need to change
  • Break down the habits into the three main components of patterns; trigger, routine, and reward.
  • Make systemic and organizational changes to address the root cause of bad habits.
  • Establish an alternative route to break bad habits with appropriate rewards 

3.   Establish Peer-Support Programs to Drive Change

Peer support is one of the most powerful tools to drive changes within an organization. A peer support program lets team members offer support to others through shared experiences. With this strategy, a leader can drive change by relying on inter-team relationships.  

For instance, a leader can commit resources to train a few employees on problem-solving skills. Once the employees have completed training, they can establish ways to better solve problems within the organization through mutual support and understanding. 

 A leader can start a peer support program through the following steps:

First, establish confidentiality which is critical to creating trust and building confidence.

 Secondly, select the right personnel to suit the intended purpose of the peer support program.

Finally, commit to consistent training and constant evaluation of the program.

4.   Create A Community without Hierarchy

While it may seem counterintuitive, a self-directed community without a formal leader is a great way to drive change. Research has shown that the lack of traditional organizational structures increases comfort and security and fosters mutuality. 

Flattening conventional hierarchical leadership structures could lead to change because more voices can be represented and more ideas generated. A lack of hierarchy also improves collaboration due to more open communication between team members. 

Valve, the gaming company famous for its Steam platform, is perhaps the most famous example of a company without hierarchical structures. The company is worth more than $10 billion. Their success should indicate the potential of this unconventional model of leadership.  

5.   Embrace Continuous Introspection

Continuous introspection is necessary to drive change as it lets you examine your actions, motivation, and progress. 

Embracing this concept as a leader lets you build a keen sense of self-awareness through a propensity to reflectively look inwards and develop self-knowledge. 

A well-developed idea of where you are, your values, and what motivates you is crucial in the change-making process.

6.   Acknowledge Small Wins

Change is a journey and, more often than not, a long and arduous one. The daily grind can make you lose sight of what is essential and what is not. Celebrating small wins will boost morale and ensure that efforts to make change are not abandoned due to a lack of motivation.  

You can create a company structure that embraces small wins through the following steps:

  • Create milestones to mark stages in the journey to long-term goals
  • Announce wins to the entire organization or company
  • Reward winners with notes, social media shout-outs, bonuses, or opportunities to work on special projects

7.   Understand that the Goal of Change is Progress, not perfection

The last tip on this list is less actionable but no less critical. Understanding that change is progress, not perfection, is the right mental attitude to have for various reasons.

Chasing perfection could introduce an additional layer of stress and could demoralize team members. Research has shown that chasing perfection could elevate stress levels in the human body leading to a loss of appetite and insomnia. 

A laser focus on an overall goal of perfection could be distracting as it obfuscates new ideas. All energy is directed to eliminating flaws. This drains one of any sense of self-awareness and stops new ideas or solutions. 

The goal of change should be step-by-step change. Every day, month, or year should have a better outlook than the preceding periods.  

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How Highrise can Assist

At Highrise, we believe that change is imperative at the workplace to survive the realities of modern work, such as the reality of working post-Covid-19. Preparing and managing change from a managerial level needs serious planning and execution. If this is a goal you have in mind, at Highrise, we shall pair you with some of the best executive coaches to assist in preparing for this critical task.