By Barbara Semeniuk, 2020
Creating change in the workplace can be exciting to some; however, intimidating to others. While some leaders can develop great ideas for change, they may not always have an effective plan for implementing those changes. New technologies and industry trends in an organization create the need for new processes that require safety measures to avoid hazards and communication to coordinate between coworkers. It is necessary to guide everyone through procedures with clear objectives.
Too often, there are efforts to make big changes to see even bigger results that don’t appear obtainable. This can end up creating a crash-and-burn situation when results are not seen right away. Leaders may give up on the plan or keep changing it frequently, hoping for different outcomes. The lack of consistency and follow-through leaves employees feeling overwhelmed, and they lean back on old habits from before.
Having a strategic plan for change, which is done in small, measurable steps, will set both the leader and their team up for success. Gary Keller, the best-selling author of The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, says to think big, but put your focus toward implementing one new thing at a time. If your attention is being pulled in different directions, your efforts can end up being much less productive and create an unintended outcome.
4 Ways to Create Change in the Workplace with Lasting Results
Define the Current Problems
Leaders should work together by assessing the current processes and discovering problems that need to be resolved. Sometimes, problems in the workplace are overlooked or not appropriately addressed. Take time to discuss current issues with your management or team. Use a whiteboard to write down and review questions and answers together. Find ways to improve the current work environment and begin to generate some excitement around the effort to change. Here are some examples:
• Who oversees the current process?
• Why are we not getting the results we want?
• What can we do differently?
• When do we want to start implementing the change?
Create and Visualize the Plan
Work from a backward approach, starting with the end goal and creating actionable steps to get there. Help your team visualize the end result that leads to a safer or simpler process for them or financial benefits, keeping their head in the game. Your team must want to change. For example, your goal might be to increase profitability by a certain percentage by the end of the year. From your broader one-year plan, come up with specific objectives for each quarter, month, week, and day. Use SMART goals to ensure your actions are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Each successful milestone gains enthusiasm for the reward when the numbers are met at the end of the year.
Track Results to Motivate Progress
When you are making changes that are effective and long-lasting, results will be seen over time. It is important to track them so that you can see your progress. When your team sees improvement, they are motivated to stay on the path to success. They will look forward to seeing proof of change in Excel spreadsheets or the data input system used in your organization. The better your technology, the easier it is to track and share accomplishments. You can also display your team’s results in your conference area, where only management and employees can see. Some changes may take, on average, six months to see significant results, but stay the course as long as your milestones indicate it’s working. However, if you notice results are not coming through at your set milestones, go back to the team to review your questions again, find out what went wrong, and make any necessary adjustments.
Communicate on a Human Level
Your team should understand the changes that are being implemented, the actionable steps to get there, and the expected outcome. Share your “why” for implementing the changes and how it will affect the business and the employees in a positive way. Lead by example and talk about other companies that implemented similar procedures that led to lasting benefits. Have employees come up with scenarios that could show the greatest impact for them. The more interested they are in new ideas, the easier it is for them to adopt accountability for reaching each goal. Promote introspection and invite a discussion over objections to the new procedures. Delegate work appropriately so that everyone is involved in the process. Check in regularly with team members for feedback on how the changes are going and how they might be improved. Be sure to thank everyone for their efforts and celebrate the wins.
Creating change in the workplace is a challenge that separates adequate leadership from those who become masters at effectively guiding others toward successful accomplishments. Like any skill, it takes practice. When a great leader tackles an objective, the results are consistent and reliable every time. They understand human behavior, how to approach individual team members, and what it takes to develop new habits to bridge the gap when transitioning through change.
EOS – Entrepreneurial Operating System for Businesses, home of Traction tools & library. (2020, November). https://www.eosworldwide.com/
Keller, G., & Papasan, J. (2019). The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
Pater, R. (2020, October). How to Actually Change Actions: Five Critical Steps. Retrieved from https://www.assp.org/