5 Steps for Managing Change
Even when you know it’s time for a change, working your way through it can be daunting, requiring perseverance and teamwork. If you’re transitioning to a new partner firm or considering doing so, your journey can be made easier with a coherent internal process and knowing what to look for in a partner.
Change happens one person at a time, but change management happens at an organizational level.
Pave a clear path through change
Confronting change can feel like trying to break through barriers on all sides: barriers in the direction you’re going and barriers from within your organization. These points of resistance can prolong your process, create confusion, interfere with a smooth workflow, and ultimately, impact the services you provide to your clients.
However, if you lay the groundwork at the beginning of the process to identify these barriers and a strategy to work through them—and find a partner firm who can guide you and smooth the path—you can tackle these steps one at a time with minimal operational disruption.
A plan for success
Change management has been a hot topic for years, and there are many approaches to tacking it. One you might want to consider following is ADKAR, a widely used methodology developed in 1998 by Prosci Research. It contains five steps that, followed in order, build upon each other to ensure buy-in, minimize resistance, and maximize results.
Clearly communicating the need for and benefits of change includes making a compelling case that creates a sense of ownership in the process. When the team understands the goals and rewards of changing, the process can be less time consuming and costly.
Creating awareness provides the framework for the team’s actions throughout the process. You can do this by holding events or meetings to explain why change is needed, establish and maintain an open dialogue as the process moves forward, and ensure that information regarding challenges and successes are updated on an ongoing basis.
Even when you know change is inevitable, it’s another thing to buckle down and face it head on. It’s important to both establish and maintain over time the desire to change among your team. Use brainstorming sessions, suggestion boxes, and one-on-one meetings to ensure that team members stay involve. Designate someone to be the primary sponsor for change, so everyone knows who to go to with concerns, questions, and ideas. Be proactive with those who seem most resistant, and stress the opportunities the change presents for growth and improved operations.
Knowing what to do builds off the first two steps, and includes providing training and education on how to implement the steps toward change. This can include mentoring teams with positive reinforcement and encouraging questions and knowledge assessment to find the best and most efficient ways to education and train team members.
Once your team knows what is necessary to implement change, they need to demonstrate the ability to complete the tasks. This can take time, and you should expect road bumps and setbacks. Incorporate hands-on training and access to subject matter experts, offer feedback and support, and involve coaching to move the process forward.
The human tendency is to fall back on what is familiar and the desire to move on to something else. Make sure you acknowledge efforts with feedback or a simple “thank you.” Create a system for tracking and measuring the impact of the change so that it’s tangible to team members, and publicly recognize the efforts and accomplishments of the team to reinforce their positive efforts.
Creating and following a plan to move through change can mean reaching your goals more quickly and with less frustration, so that you and your team come out stronger on the other side.
Power your performance with partnership
To amplify the efforts of your team, look for a partner who has been there and done that, and has the established and proven support and guidance to get you there smoothly. Choosing the right partner can mean the difference between bogging down in process and efficiently checking off your to-do list and getting back to business.
Some of the services and traits to look for include:
- Clear communications and a timeline for the steps you must take to transition
- Easily accessible and productive trainings that allow you to immerse yourself in their technology and procedures, along with a learning plan.
- A thorough list of problem-solving contacts for support on topics ranging from technology to processes to consultancy—people who can effectively and efficiently guide you through the questions you have and obstacles you face.
- The depth and experience to ensure that the changes you make, whether they be in accounts or your marketing materials, are compliant with regulations.
- The scale to be able to respond to you on a timely basis and keep up with—or even a step ahead of—where you are.
- A firm whose success is tied to yours, so they have a vested interest in making sure your transition is as seamless as possible.
Often, our greatest successes happen only after we’ve forged through our biggest challenges. What seems daunting at the start can be accomplished through a thoughtful and deliberate strategy, one step at a time.
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