Change? It's now! What are the best practices?
No magic recipe to accompany a transformation project exists. Instead, it is a question of coordinating different steps to position people at the heart of the system. What are the best practices in change management? How to manage emotions? What place should be given to them?
This article was originally published by Agnes Menso.
Today's business life is driven by change: relocation, restructuring, teleworking, etc. Managing change applies to all companies, from SMEs to large groups.
The different types of change
There are two types of change: Type I change and Type II change.
Type I change
It is a change akin to homeostasis (from the Greek homios - similar, and histemi - immobile). It is a stage of non-change: the company protects itself to maintain its balance, choosing self-corrective measures, which will eventually freeze its operations. This stage is nevertheless necessary to move on to type II change.
Type II change
This is a profound change in the system. Type I adaptations (which have reinforced malfunctions) will lead the company to embark on an in-depth evolution in order to operate again.
Few companies can undertake a type II change without going through a type I change: the type I change prepares people and the organization; it is the time for learning and experimentation, even if it delays the in-depth change.
Best practices in managing change
There is no "off-the-shelf" manual for leading transformation projects. On the other hand, there are a few essentials to manage them:
Anticipate: managing change cannot be spontaneous, it has to be planned. Immersed in daily life, leaders are short of time. In times of uncertainty, it is all the more important. It is even a key element in the success of your project.
Communicate: controlled, transparent, fair and regular communication is reassuring. Speaking up regularly reduces the spread of rumors and "fake news", the consequences of which can be disastrous. Depending on the importance of the project, it can be ensured by the boss or one of his team members.
Pamper your middle management: he is your intermediary in the field and provides you with vital information. Giving him or her time, listening and paying attention can only be beneficial. Make sure he or she is well trained.
Record your vision with Smart objectives: it will be more tangible for everyone, and your teams will find it easier to take ownership and get involved.
Respect the company's values: set an example by making them a reality in your management. Setting an example is a powerful tool in terms of employee commitment and loyalty.
Share your feelings and intuition: by communicating them, you allow your teams to do the same and thus lay the foundations for a new way of collaborating.
Reinforce the role of Human Resources: they are a key strategic partner to support you and steer your transformation program.
Involve your social partners: their power of influence is significant; consider involving them upstream and throughout the project.
Stages of managing change
Before undertaking a major change and to maximize your chances of success, be careful about the atmosphere in the company and keep in mind the different stages of managing change.
These stages are the phases of mourning, as observed by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler Ross. :
The impact: it is related to the news announcement; the employees are stunned, dumbfounded, speechless.
Denial: no one can believe the news, no one understands it.
Anger: everyone is faced with the reality of the situation (which they cannot accept). A "culprit" must be found...
Fear: it is related to uncertainty, present and future. It generates doubt, stress, tension and aggressiveness.
Sadness: employees become aware of the end of a state and feel nostalgia and regret. They are still in the past and may return to fear and anger.
Acceptance: the past is gradually fading away, everyone can start projecting themselves, but the enthusiasm is not yet there.
Forgiveness: employees gradually understand the reasons for this change and regain a taste for the company's projects.
The search for meaning: change has advantages and offers opportunities for training and promotion.
Serenity: the change is integrated and everyone is aware that there is a "before" and an "after".
These steps are flown over far too often. Many leaders do not experience fear or anger and would like their people to be able to project themselves quickly into renewal and growth. But change takes time...
We cannot talk about managing change without emotions. Change, with its share of unknowns, is frightening and causes stress and resistance. Change, depending on each person, will be experienced differently: some will quickly feel quite comfortable, others will see their balance wavering.
Be attentive to certain signs that do not deceive :
- Sick leave for employees who were never absent,
Unexplained delays for others very punctual,
Decreased results and motivation for those who were high performers and highly committed,
Aggressiveness, incivility, conflict, etc.
Emotions must be able to be freely expressed: you can set up discussion groups or exchange of practices with a coaching professional. Expressing your fears confidentially and without the manager's gaze helps you to understand them better and feel relieved.
Driven by people and for people, with respect for everyone, change can be a tool for motivation and commitment.