When it comes to change, there is often resistance. In the workplace, for instance, new technologies may be met with, “Things are fine just the way they are.” For example, take a new customer relationship management (CRM) system. While a CRM system can help a business close more deals and increase profits, employees might need some convincing to embrace this technology.
People resist change for many reasons. A basic fear of the unknown is just one example. In a business environment, managers must be able to recognize and address such obstacles as part of the process of change management.
To help prepare managers for leading change, Northwest Missouri State University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management offers a course called Organizational Behavior in Administration. This course provides an in-depth examination of organizational change, addressing related topics such as motivation, teamwork and leadership.
What Is Change Management?
At the most basic level, change management relates to the “people” side of doing business in new ways. Change is a common occurrence for any business that wants to improve. Change management is an approach that focuses on helping people get on board with those changes.
What drives the need for change? Performance improvement is a prime factor. Chris Joseph discusses a few examples in “Factors That May Cause Change in an Organization.” (Houston Chronicle)
- Competition: New competitors may force a business to change its marketing strategies.
- Technology: Businesses have to change just to keep up with the latest technologies. Employees who are less confident in their use of computers, for example, may require more support to successfully adopt a new software system.
- Growth: Most businesses have goals that relate to growth. Achieving this growth often requires changes in day-to-day operations.
- Processes: Businesses implement new processes for a variety of reasons, often to increase efficiencies or improve performance.
- Government Regulations: Government regulations can impact the day-to-day activities of a business. Businesses need to keep up with changes to these regulations as a requirement of doing business. As one example, businesses involved in food production may need to incorporate changes to production to meet food safety requirements.
What Are Key Considerations in Change Management?
As Lindsay Broder explains in an Entrepreneur article, “While managers love change, employees often fear it or fight it.” What is the solution? For starters, Broder does not recommend firing employees who do not readily embrace change.
According to Broder, managers who want to lead lasting change (and make things easier for themselves) will want to take the following steps:
- Help employees understand what is changing and why.
- Match tasks to individual strengths. Make sure each person understands how his or her work contributes to achieving desired outcomes.
- Encourage open and regular communication, especially when problems come up. Engage employees in helping to identify solutions.
- Address resistance that pops up along the way. Prevent small problems from becoming bigger ones.
- Be prepared to take a step back when things are not going as planned. Keep in mind that corrective actions might involve making changes to the original change being implemented.
Change is as much a part of the business environment as it is of everyday life. Those handwritten notes about customer interactions may work in the moment. But implementing a company-wide shift to a CRM system has its advantages — not the least of which is improving performance across multiple departments.
In change management, having employees on board is key to leading successful and sustainable change. For managers, understanding how to “sell” that change is a workplace requirement.
Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University’s online MBA in Management program.