How Change Management Training Can Be the Key to Success

How Change Management Training Can Be the Key to Success
Change is inevitable. Gone are the days when companies could keep using the same strategies for decades. The rapid advancements in technology and culture have forced companies to evolve and become better. 

However change is also notoriously hard for companies. Organizations work hard to create business processes and work culture. When they are tasked with changing everything because of a technological or cultural change it becomes a daunting task. 

Bigger organizations have a much harder time managing time coping with change because they have to ensure that thousands of employees are on the same page. That is why change management training is necessary for all the key stakeholders in the organization.

Why Managing Change is Hard for Companies

Change is difficult for companies because over time a company’s work practices become standardized. When you try to change them it causes a panic in employees. 

Employees who have been doing well in the old way of working are scared because they don’t know if they will still be able to perform just as well in the new way of doing things. This is often seen in companies that have been acquired by another company or when two companies merge.

Employees that are the best performers know that they are appreciated by management and rewarded accordingly. They have no idea if the new management or the new management structure will be similarly beneficial for them. Change management training focuses on ensuring that the employees do not panic by highlighting their key concerns and discussing methods to tackle these concerns.

Training Allows People to Embrace Change

Change isn’t just hard for organizations; it is just as hard to change something in our life. Anyone who has tried to change their behavior or break a habit (such as going on a diet or trying to quit smoking) will know how hard it is.

When you apply this to an organization the same feeling is amplified by every employee sharing their insecurity with everyone else. However training manages to overcome this hurdle completely. 

When you provide change management training to the people they know what they are in for. It familiarizes change and allows people to understand how it can be brought. Think of it as a river going one way. If it starts going the other way then there will be 3 kinds of people. Some people will still try to swim against the current and fail.

Some others will try to stay right where they are and fail as well. The third group will simply start swimming with the new current and succeed. Training helps convert people from the first two groups into the third group.

Change management training is especially important now thanks to rapidly changing technology requirements. Cloud computing, business analytics, and other information technology developments have made change a necessity for companies that want to compete in today’s market. Proper training will ensure that companies can shift from antiquated ways of working to new ones with an increase in productivity instead of a drop.

Leaders Must Prepare for Technical and Global Change

Cartoon of a man spread out on the grass with the caption, "He tried to hold back the blades of change."

Holding back change is impossible.  Change is an inevitable fact of our world and it is happening at a faster and faster rate.  And, as we look into the future, the pace of change will continue to accelerate. 

Change management consulting experts talk about change as having two main drivers: globalization and the growth of technology. Let’s look at how these factors affect business in our country today.

The internet and social media have transformed the way we do business. Every organization is challenged to adapt. In the health industry, medical devices gather and analyze samples and data for practitioners; in retail, inventory systems are self-regulating and customers are handled by elaborate robot voices and phone trees; in manufacturing, machines set up their own maintenance schedules and robots are taking over assembly lines. 

As for personal phones, computers and the like, the number of new devices sold has grown tenfold to 2.5 billion since 2000. And there are over 3 billion people worldwide connected to the Internet. Every company, no matter what sector of the economy, must re-evaluate their strategy, their operations and their whole approach in the light of this dramatic and unrelenting change due to technology.

Whereas the U.S. dominated the world’s economy for nearly a century, China has now become, in purchase power anyway, the largest economy. One of its standard-bearers, Lenovo Group, is the largest manufacturer of personal computers and operates in 60 different countries. China is just one of other emerging Asian markets that can shift the balance of economic power away from the U.S., the European Union and the other once rapid growth economies of Brazil and Russia.

What can we do to meet the challenge of digital and global change?
Leaders must prepare as best they can for the future. They must be flexible and adjust their strategies to accommodate technological change, not fight it. Kodak should have seen the writing on the wall when digital cameras first came out. Instead, they continued to invest in producing film for what would soon be obsolete cameras. Additionally, leaders should explore new markets for their goods. They should build relationships with other countries and explore the possibility of global partnerships.

That’s what they can do at the high level. When it comes to leading their employees effectively through organizational change, they need to operate on a more personal level. As organizational changes loom, leaders must honestly and directly describe how it will affect the company and the work force. They need to show they have the confidence to weather the storms of change and ride high on the waves that can carry them successfully to shore. By modeling flexibility in the face of change, leaders can demonstrate how to survive and even thrive through the inevitable changes of the future.

Three Super Heroes of Successful Change Management

3 businessmen with masks and capes are masquerading as super heroes

After decades of working with our clients in change management consulting, we have learned what it takes to effect organizational change successfully. We can boil it down to three major change factors…the super heroes of how to do organizational change right.
  1. The effective communicator
    The power of communicating not just the “what” of organizational change but also the “why” and “how” of change is critical. To buy into the need for organizational change, employees want to understand the purpose behind the change and have confidence in how to pull it off. Yes, they’ll want to know what they need to do differently. But they also need to know what the change will accomplish and how their lives will be improved. The super hero who can communicate well can build support for the change as well as the sense of urgency.
  2. The change leader
    This super hero understands the important role leadership plays in modeling successful organizational change. Leders will likely need to change their own behavior and show their enthusiasm before others will sign up and commit to the proposed transformation. They need to display confidence and a positive outlook. Change is difficult. If you show doubt or hesitation, your workforce will sense your attitude and copy it. Make sure employees are not discouraged by your attitude but are inspired by your clarity, effort and commitment.
  3. The collaborator
    Successful change has to be a cooperative effort. The third super hero is the one who knows how to bring people together and work across boundaries. Everyone should be pulling in the same direction. The collaborator can show how individual employees can address the challenges of change and conquer them better together. By involving your team in the change process early on, you include them in tackling troublesome issues and bringing solutions to the table as problems arise.
So listen to the change management consulting super heroes and focus on communication, cooperation and committed leadership to manage change successfully.

How to Better Manage Change to Successfully Transform

the evolution of a caterpillar into a butterfly

Change management consulting guides often use the evolution of a butterfly from a caterpillar visual as an example of a successful and profound transformation.  Few changes in nature are as dramatic and complete.

But sometimes the changes employees and organizations face feel almost as life transforming. You may not be able to alter the path the company or your industry has chosen, but, our change management consulting experience tells us, you certainly have control over how you handle organizational changes.

Organizational and individual change is never easy. When we at LSA Global are called in as change management consulting experts, we are asked to help an organization effect change as quickly, as seamlessly and as painlessly as possible. We typically work with leadership to help them clarify and communicate change in a positive way, empathize with those who feel threatened, be clear with expectations and transparent about how each employee will be affected—all while maintaining forward progress and support throughout the change management process.

Sometimes, however, we are called in to help an individual who is struggling with personal or organizational change. Here the focus needs to be more on how the employee handles their own reaction to change. We help them see that the change will happen. We understand that they are fearful, but we try to shift their focus toward what they can do to put the change to their advantage. Instead of stressing over a feeling that they will not measure up to the new challenge, we try to help them think about how they can leverage their skills and look for ways to keep their career moving forward. The change could actually present new opportunities.

When you are faced with change at your organization, try to change your attitude from fear to acceptance, from stress to problem solving, from a feeling of no control to looking for new opportunities to grow.

Let’s say you have a new boss. Show that you are eager to support their success. Ask what they hope to achieve with the team and explore ways your strengths can contribute to the new team dynamic and goals. Be proactive about asking for support in building new skills if you see that new skills will be needed for the team to succeed.

See change as a positive force…a way to how move forward. Show that you are focused not on the negatives of change but on the way you can be even more productive and successful.

4 Tips On How to Introduce and Lead Successful Change

a business woman follows an arrow that curves to the right

When change is afoot, be sure you plan well.

Our two decades in the field of change management consulting have shown us how critical it is to lay the groundwork for change before you announce it to your workforce. Successful change involves not only the operational side but also the people side; and it is the people side of change that so many companies neglect and why so many efforts at change fail.

Studies report that as many as 50% to 70% of change initiatives are unsuccessful…an astounding statistic. It means that at least half of the changes begun are changes that never cross the finish line. Organizations seem to focus more on how to manage what needs to be done rather than explaining why it needs to be accomplished. If you really need and want to set a new direction for your company, you had better pay attention to the feelings of those you expect to implement it…your employees.

Here are a few tips on how to introduce and lead change so that you are far more likely to be in the right half of the change statistics:

  • Understand that there is a natural resistance to change. Most everyone prefers the comfort and familiarity of the status quo. Smart change leaders know that employees will not easily give up what is familiar or what has worked for them in the past. Acknowledge what they value from the past while, at the same time, inspiring them with a clear and compelling vision of the future. Give them the time and space to absorb why change needs to happen and be available to answer their questions and discuss their concerns.

  • Recognize that change is a process. It won’t happen overnight. Employees may need to learn new skills and behaviors. These will need to be taught, coached, modeled, measured and rewarded as the behaviors are applied on the job. There will be a learning curve…and perhaps a bumpy one. Just keep track of progress and celebrate it as you continue to move in the right direction.

  • Paint the picture in a compelling way. The better the workforce understands what the future holds for them, the sooner they will commit to your vision of change. This is your opportunity to use all your powers of persuasion to bring employees to your understanding of why change is needed to secure a brighter future for everyone.

  • Build resilience. Change is hard. There will be uncertainty, additional stress and, no doubt, many setbacks. Prepare yourself and your employees to expect and deal with the difficulties in a healthy way. Support your folks through the trials and tribulations of change. When you are able to handle the downside of change, you deserve to celebrate the upside. 

3 Organizational Change Approaches to Reduce Fear

One by one, the letters F, E, A, R are pushied off a cliff

The best leaders know how to introduce and communicate organizational changes. They rely upon fine-tuned empathy with their employees to launch an organizational change initiative in a way that is well received. Less empathetic leaders seem to dictate change in a way that drives their employees to think of change as being as fearful as falling off a cliff.

Employees typically experience anxiety as a normal and rational reaction to any change that they imagine could rock their world. Leaders who plan a change need to take this into account and plan a change management strategy for communication and implementation that encompasses the lessons we have learned in our twenty-plus years of change management consulting.

To “do organizational change right,” leaders need to:

  • Communicate change in a way that inspires commitment not rejection.
    Understand that, regardless of how great the change is, you will face some resistance. Plan your change announcement very carefully. You need to find a judicious balance between articulating what will be gained and acknowledging what will be lost. Your message needs to motivate and inspire. You want your workers to understand the risks and rewards of the change because without their full commitment and support, your plan for change will fall far short of your hopes. The overall message, however, needs to highlight why the change is necessary, what the new destination looks like, the plan to get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future, the role you expect people to play along the way, and the benefits of the change at the organizational, team and individual levels. 

  • Continue to motivate even while progress is made.Organizational change is not easy. It takes perseverance and patience. Beware of flagging commitment to the end game. Your message of understanding, encouragement and dedication will need to be reinforced throughout the process. Keep employees involved and engaged. Meet regularly to listen to questions and concerns, incorporate feedback, and monitor progress.  Your job as change leader is to stay realistic and optimistic in order to sustain their energy for the long haul. 

  • Celebrate milestones and reward those who embrace change.The encouragement of early adapters is critical for any change to gain momentum. They are the ones who will lead by example and encourage their co-workers across the finish line. Recognize those who exhibit the desired behavior changes and publicly honor each step in the right direction.

Change Management: What to Do If You Are Serious

a man breaks through a barrier with a sledge hammer

No one said that change was easy.  But did anyone who ever undertook change realize how very difficult it could be?

In some respects it is better not to have the whole that knee operation your doctor recommended. You were convinced you would have far more mobility once you healed and you looked forward to hiking those trails again. But if you had known how much pain there would be in the interim and how long the physical therapy would be, you might not have followed through with the surgery.

And so it can be with major organizational change. Even with a compelling business reason for the change, it will be challenging. If you are truly serious about organizational change and really want to break down the barriers to implementing new ways successfully for the long-term, you need to be prepared to endure some pain and be rigorous about tracking and reinforcing progress.  When organizational change has truly been achieved, it will seem so natural that you will almost forget what it was like before…just the way you forgot how long it took to climb the stairs before your operation.

This is the warning we give all our clients who look to us for our expertise in change management consulting. Major organizational change is not easy. But experienced change leaders know what it takes. Here are three critical success factors:

  1. CommunicationEmployees need to fully understand what is in it for them and the company. How will the change improve their situation…as individuals, as a team and as an organization? The goal of the change and the rationale for the change needs to be clear, compelling and reiterated often so the work force keeps their eye on the prize.
  2. CommitmentCommitment to the change needs to be at the highest level. Each and every leader needs to be involved in the process…as coaches and models of the new behaviors required to effect the change.
  3. ConsistencyChange should be considered for the long-term. It will take time and consistent effort to achieve. Make sure that any new hires, especially at the executive level, support the change even as it takes hold.