Never before have organizations undergone change at the pace of today. Just in the last few years, companies have had to deal with enormous changes brought by innovations like cloud computing, mobile devices, big data, and social media. Any one of these technological changes would have been massive in itself. Managing change is no longer an option. For successful companies, change management is a necessity. How can your IT service desk (and, indeed, the company as a whole) manage change in today’s environment?
1. Understanding Change Management
Managers probably understand the technical side of change management, that is, using version control to update systems. But change management is much broader. It involves taking a planned and structured approach to changes, including systems updates, along with preparing employees for those changes, with an end goal of achieving greater efficiency and success. Change management isn’t just a matter of keeping up with the latest technologies; it also involves bringing the staff up to the task of not just accepting change but making the most out of those innovations.
2. Manage Change as a Process, Not a Series of Events
Change management is best done in a continual series of ongoing changes instead of periodic major changes. In other words, the company should always be making progress in easy, manageable steps instead of waiting until large-scale changes are necessary. Not only is this method of change management easier to handle, it also gives employees time to cope and adapt. Don’t look at changes as giant leaps, but rather as baby steps toward a higher level of efficiency.
3. The People Side of Change Management
It is a myth that employees are afraid of change. What employees fear is uncertainty, not change. Thorough and repeated communication is essential. That communication should make it clear what the value of the impending changes can offer the employees. The communication should also illustrate how the change is necessary and beneficial in helping the company meet its goals, which also benefits the employees.
This process of communication is not a one-way street. It involves listening to what employees have to say, what their questions are, and what pros and cons they see relative to proposed changes. Never assume you know what they are thinking. Employees gain confidence as they master the skills necessary to do their jobs. This confidence leads to comfort. When employees are unsure how the new processes work, this hinders their confidence, which in turn hinders their comfort. Changes should always revolve around the people affected, not just the systems affected.
A common mistake among managers using change management techniques is to make the budget ends meet by cutting back on employee education, engagement, and feedback programs. However, these programs are essential for managing change, and should be the last place to cut back on efforts or funding.
4. Failures in Change Management
Inevitably, some changes won’t work. Identifying why a new procedure or system failed is crucial for ensuring the success of future change implementations. Did management fail to listen to concerns of production workers? Was inadequate funding allotted to educating the employees on the change? Was the change made too soon or too quickly? Perhaps the change was delayed too long? Determine what led to the failure and acknowledge why so that future changes don’t experience the same fate.