Change Management of any magnitude is one that requires both thoughtful consideration and skillful execution.  Without sounding manic, such a seamless transition within a business can mean the difference a company that fails or flourishes.

When it comes to big change (radical and strategically significant transformation that involves a huge departure from current organisational procedures and purposes) a “Top-Down” approach is usually adopted.

A top-down change approach is one that involves all level of management: C-suite/senior executives typically envision, plot and direct implementation. Middle management is then accountable for the comprehensive coordination and internal organisation of change, while non-managerial staff are crucial with respect to embedding change, even though they usually have little or no say in the decision making process.

It takes a village.

For a CEO or CFO considering such seismic corporate change, the following are worth considering:

  • Clarity of purpose
    Having a crystal clear view and understanding of what the intended objective is, typically, is a great starting point for the merchants of transformation. Being able to succinctly articulate this goal most times is the trickiest part of the change management process.

    Fairly frequently, leaders regrettably fall prey to communication woes when trying to convey the transformation idea. They sometimes resort to sterile corporate speak which leaves the employees apathetic on one hand. On the other end of the spectrum, they infuse so much gloss and pointless trimmings to the message resulting in utter confusion on the part of the workers.

    Top level executives must find the communication bullseye: which is a middle ground between the ordinary and exaggeration; this way workers clearly get the broad stroke narrative and are motivated towards adoption.

  • Manage potential C-suite Conflict
    Intrinsically, the subject of change can be divisive: not everyone will see eye-to-eye on the matter, and as such, can breed conflict (which can trickle down).

    Usually, when theme of resistance to corporate change is mentioned, most times we think of the low to mid-level employees and don’t particularly pay attention to the members of the C-Suite. Actively managing this group should also be a capital priority when broaching the issue of change.

    Ideally, it would be great to have all the top-level executives on the same page, but realistically, there might be severe disagreements or conflicting opinions. In such an occurrence, it is imperative that the CEO shepherds this group towards some kind of middle ground.

    The reason being that if a consensus isn’t reached and these executives are left with their contrarian views, unaddressed, it can end up poisoning the communal well and lead to an organisation divided into opposing camps.

  • Encourage Middle Manager collaboration
    The role of the middle manager in ensuring a unified switch towards corporate change cannot be overemphasized. As noted previously in the introductory paragraph, the Middle Manager is tasked with the nitty-gritty of change implementation; it is then pivotal to ensure that these cohorts are all on the same page working in harmony towards the same goal.

    In order to foster this managerial coordination, you would have to revisit the present company goals and eliminate any kind of rivalry (which is a common trait). For example, ensure that the developmental manager (rewarded for meeting deadlines) and a test manager (rewarded for launching a product/service with few bugs) share a mutual goal that they can be both be measured and rewarded by.

  • Prioritize tasks
    Another massive pitfall organisations fall into is trying to do so much at the same time. Embarking on the change quest involves the erudite juggling of so many chores that it is becomes tempting to become an overachiever.

    Prioritizing and phasing out the required undertakings is a great way of instilling order to what can be a somewhat mammoth sized task. Above all, this helps in making the change more palatable internally, and also prevents a reduction in the output quality (of the products and services) provided externally.

  • Change is a continuous process
    There isn’t a utopia in change management – no final destination of sorts. When it comes to incorporating change, it’s an ever evolving and ongoing activity; think of it as a marathon and not a sprint.

    Having this understanding will help companies develop the much-needed stamina required to stride through the occasionally stressful nature of transformation.

Managing change can be finicky  – as you can see – but it is feasible. With any luck, these five hints will make such a mission manageable. Best of luck!

Written by Sandra McLeod @Locomote

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