We live in a world where disruption and rapid change are the order of the day. So prevalent are these trends that almost every business leader is forced to exercise transformational leadership. You might remember my reference to women being mostly good at transformational leadership.  Managing change is not easy. Even Niccolo Machiavelli once said, ‘There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Nevertheless, the cost of doing nothing can be higher so change ought to be managed in the business environment.

What Is Change Management In The Business Environment?

It is the systematic definition and adoption of strategies, structures, procedures, and technologies needed to effectively navigate change in the business environment. The whole framework starts with realizing and accepting the need for change. This is then followed by communicating the need for change with the relevant parties. This will build the foundation for consultative discussions that will culminate in change plans being drafted.

This will be followed by execution along with monitoring and evaluation. That is the overview of what change management is all about. Change can be developmental, transitional, or transformational. Wondering what can necessitate a change in a business environment? Well, it can be the adoption of new tech, leadership changes, economic crises, mergers, or acquisitions, amongst others.

Effectively Managing Change In The Business Environment

This will be possible if you follow a set of steps every time you need to manage change. Here are the steps to follow:

Define, Align And Plan

There are two broad variables at play in any business environment i.e. company goals and the change being experienced. You need to accurately interpret what is happening so that you correctly define the change needed. As you do so you must ensure that the needed change aligns with the company’s goals. Why is this important? Yes, there is a need for change and you must do something. However, it would defeat the purpose of the change you think is needed and will derail the goal(s) of the company.

There must be an alignment; so this is the starting point – define the needed change and ensure it is properly aligned to company goals. This will be intertwined with drafting the change management plan. This plan must not come out of thin air; it must be a result of consultative processes. In change management, top-down approaches are counterproductive and will often be met with extreme resistance. Involve everyone; let them contribute their thoughts to the discussion.

Project The Possible Negative Effects Of The Change

You must interrogate how the change will affect the involved parties. What type of effects will they encounter and to what extent? How best can they be prepared for those effects so that everything stays on course? The effects we are discussing here are negative, remember. Thus those to be affected by them must be prepared or cushioned against them. Making these projections inform on interventions that can be crafted to shield against the negative effects. In any change management process, negative effects are inevitable so take this step seriously.

Orientation and Training

Before rolling out the change management plan, you need to loop in everyone involved. Why is the change being effected necessary? Who will it affect? How will the change be affected? Who will be responsible for what and what will be the reporting structure? How long will the process take? These are some of the questions whose answers will need to be communicated to the relevant parties. Will any training be for whatever reason necessary? For example, the introduction of the new tech will necessitate training. It might also be necessary to teach new sets of skills or conduct the needed change. These are some of the orientation and training-related areas that will need to be formalized.

Roll Out, Monitor And Evaluate

Once the rollout commences being on top of ensuring everyone involved is playing their role as they ought to. Avail of the necessary material and immaterial resources needed. Foster collaboration and open communication so that everything flows smoothly. Make sure there are no crippling bureaucracies that can slow or derail the rollout. Have an efficient reporting and feedback mechanism so that gaps are quickly identified and filled. This can also help in identifying better ways of implementing the plan. Monitoring and evaluation must be the clock effort.

Pitfalls To Be Wary Of In Managing Change

Change management is not easy, always bear that in mind. As such you must be on the lookout for several challenges that may come your way. The most obvious is the resistance to change – there is nothing as painful as the pain of a new idea. You will need to deal with this otherwise the relevant parties will not be committed.

You must also anticipate conflicts which you will have to swiftly resolve. Some of the challenges will emanate from poor communication so you must see to it that communications are clear. You also need to be agile i.e. thinking on your feet and making split-second decisions. Sometimes a simple lapse can render prior efforts useless so execute fast. These are some of the possible pitfalls you must be wary of.

That is change management in the business environment. Do not be averse to change; at times change pushes your brand into bigger prospects. As they say, difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. As business leaders, it is upon you to inspire your people to accept the need for change. Change can feel hurtful or can stir up feelings of insecurity, strife, or bewilderment. I like what Winston Churchill once said – ‘to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often. Change is a constant in life which when managed well leads to bigger opportunities.