BRUSH UP ON ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE
contributed by Dr Steve Barlow
When businesses try to change, the practice can be difficult, the process risky, and the outcomes uncertain. There are, however, 6 steps that can increase your likelihood of success.
I can simply illustrate these 6 steps by using a metaphor – painting a house. Now painting involves considerable time and effort, and before you attempt it you need to have a good reason. Perhaps the old paintwork is faded and needs replacing. Perhaps you have changed the décor and need new paint to match the new look. Or you may even be trying to sell and want the house to have the broadest possible appeal. Whatever the case, you must be clear about why you need to paint, or why you need to change an organisation.
I will assume for now that you have found some good reasons to paint your house, or change your business. So, let’s look at those 6 steps.
Step 1 – Assess
The first thing you must do when tackling a paint job is to assess, realistically, what needs to be done. Which bits of the house are in good order and need minimal work? What are the problem areas that do need attention before any paint goes on? What resources are required to complete the job properly?
Unless you make a proper assessment of the job, you won’t know what you need to buy and what you need to prepare. A casual assessment might save you time now, but you will pay for it with more problems in the future and potentially spoiling the whole job.
Assessing the change readiness of your organisation and staff is a critical first step that will save you heartache, money, and time in the long-run.
Step 2 – Prepare
After you have accurately assessed your job you will know exactly what and how you need to prepare. You can buy all the resources you will need and start that tedious but essential task of preparation – filling up holes and imperfections in walls and ceiling; stripping back flaky paintwork; sanding. Not glamorous or rewarding, but you can’t get the result you want unless you do them.
After assessing the change readiness of your business, you will know exactly what you need to prepare. If you want to succeed you must not skimp on these first two steps.
Step 3 – Plan
Once the preparation is completed, it’s time to work out a plan. Will you paint the ceilings first, or will you start with the walls? Is it better to begin outside or inside? How will you get the ladder into those hard-to-get places? How long will it take? Where would you like to get up to before lunch? Who is available to help?
You need to break the big task into a set of smaller, achievable tasks. Decide on sequences, schedules, resources, logistics, and human resources.
A good change management plan is essential for organisational change. Remember, it should be compatible with your culture and make the most use of your change readiness strengths.
Step 4 – Paint
Now it’s time to really see some changes. This is the exciting bit, but it can have its own challenges. Paint spills on the floor, runs and drips, brushes that shed hairs – these are all common problems. You need focus and persistence, and the ability to overcome frustration.
Implementing organisational change is both rewarding and challenging. There are a myriad of potential problems, and each one need to be handled thoughtfully.
Step 5 – Assess Again
At various stages of the painting process you will need to step back and see what the job looks like. Is the paint going on evenly? Do the colours look right? Do you need an extra coat?
In organisational change you must continually monitor the progress of your program, and make adjustments along the way. To do this you need to establish appropriate metrics and assessment processes.
Step 6 – Enjoy and Protect
Once the job is completed to your satisfaction, it’s time to enjoy all your hard work. But you also need to protect your investment – after all, you do want it to last.
After you have gone through all the hard work changing your organisation, you want to enjoy the benefits and ensure they last into the foreseeable future. To achieve this, the organisation’s culture must be able to embed the change.
We have seen parallels between painting a house and changing an organisation. While the two processes have some basic things in common, organisational change is much more complex and success is often harder to achieve.
If you would like some further information, please feel free to contact me.
Dr Steve Barlow is Managing Director of Redequip Change Management Consultants, based in the Gold Coast region. As a change readiness specialist, he can ensure change is built on a solid foundation. You can contact him on 0404 056 788, or through the company website – www.redequip.com.au