by Donald J. Cecchi
This article was published in The Productivity Institute (PI) Newsletter . (Part 2 of 3)
Reorganizing Your Company Can Lead To Happier Customers And Employees, And Generate Bigger Profits. This Step-By-Step Process Will Show You How To Create Change And Avoid Pitfalls.
Planning And Implementation
Planning and implementation are the most critical phases of effecting change. The question must be asked: What must be done in order to carry the vision forward and who should be included in the process? It is now something of a cliché to say that “change must come from the top”, and, like many clichés, this is certainly true. In the absence of commitment at the highest level, only minor change will be possible. However, no one person can create transformation. Also, collaborations are more productive and, ultimately, the most effective way to bring about meaningful and long-lasting change. Therefore, a team must be created that represents a cross-section of the people who will be affected by change.
The reorganization team must include both management (those with the authority to effect change) and staff. Everyone must possess specific knowledge and expertise. In order to move the process along, and to avoid endless planning, some members of the planning committee must possess leadership qualities. It is from the latter group that the person responsible for coordinating and leading the entire planning process will be drawn, someone with a combination of professional and interpersonal skills, knowledge, and experience who is able to think analytically, listen, delegate responsibility, and be dedicated to bringing about change.
Once a planning committee has been assembled, it must develop a detailed course of action, which includes:
• a clear understanding of the corporate vision
• the goals of the proposed change
• the benefits that will be realized as a result of the planned change
• an assessment of the current problems
• specific objectives and the steps that are necessary to attain them
• a budget
• a detailed schedule of activities with firm, but realistic, deadlines that take into consideration current workloads
• broad categories of actions that need to be taken, which are built upon in greater detail as the planning process proceeds
• a list of required resources, including personnel, equipment/supplies, IT systems, and information
• specific assignments for the appropriate people that are clearly communicated to them
• a list of work products and deliverables, including progress reports, and deadlines for each
• a list of measurables that can be used to evaluate progress
The implementation phase requires activities similar to the planning stage. One must:
• build a team to carry out the plan that includes staff at all levels
• communicate the reasons for the proposed change
• explain to the people who were chosen why they were chosen, which also offers an opportunity to praise their abilities and work
• communicate specifically what has to be done
• offer them the opportunity to review the plan, comment on it, and contribute suggestions to making changes or “tweaking”
• create schedules for implementation, with expected deliverables, including: progress reports; status of specific goals and objectives; new procedures; computer hard- and software installations; personnel changes; and problems that have arisen and their solutions
• establish a process to monitor progress that includes periodic meetings to review progress, problems and updates
• be prepared to assess progress and adjust your course of action
And at whatever level they are, and whenever possible, people who are resistant to change should be excluded from both the planning and implementation stages. Their negativity can infect everyone else. Of course, people who subvert change covertly will have to be identified and dealt with.
Motivating Staff For Change
Once a plan has been developed and an implementation team put in place, it will be necessary to motivate staff. It is important to remember what exactly motivates people in the workplace in order to create ownership. Many people find it surprising that salary is not very high on the list. Key motivators are:
• recognition and respect
• the work itself
• personal growth
• being informed as to what is going on throughout the organization
One of the greatest motivators is short-term “wins.” Their importance cannot be overstated; without them, the long-term objectives will not be achieved. Short-term wins are the small success stories in any long-term project which create a tangible reality of what is occurring. In addition, they build momentum, help fine-tune the entire change process, and add pieces to the whole process upon which the larger change can occur. They also give staff a very real sense of accomplishment and a perception of what is possible. In addition, they avoid a perception of getting bogged down, which can be fatal, and they undermine resistance to change. They keep the bosses happy and on board. They also offer a wonderful opportunity to thank staff and to give positive feedback.
A genuine climate for change must be established and maintained throughout the entire change process. This means that people have to be allowed to have input, that their ideas and comments will be genuinely welcomed and incorporated into the plan, and that full and coherent communication takes place among everyone involved in the process and, if possible, throughout the entire organization.
In order to provide everyone with the same information, regularly scheduled meetings and written status reports, both of which should be succinct, are a must. These should include:
• the status of the change
• problems that arose, what caused them, and how they were handled
• deadlines met or not met
• needed clarifications
• on-going evaluation
• changes in process, schedules, and personnel
• and, most important, what “wins” have occurred
Once again, the greater the number of people who are included in the dissemination of information, the more smoothly, and effectively, change will occur.
Informal “water cooler” and “management by walking around” communication is also necessary. It serves to gather information and feedback that people might be reluctant to convey in a more formal setting and, even more important, it conveys the message to employees that management is genuinely interested in the project, and concerned about and interested in them as individuals.
In addition, since change is frightening to people, communication will allay much of the resistance and fear that might be created. It also allows for on-going praise. In my experience, public recognition or a “thank you” note have worked wonders. Making sure bosses know what a great job the staff has done is very effective.
Successful change does, in fact, empower employees, motivate them, and give them a sense that they are making significant contributions to the organization. Equally important, it serves to create a new culture, one in which change is accepted, integrated, and long-lasting, and complacency and resistance are hopefully banished, or at least reduced to a minimum.
A warning should be offered here: During the change process, there are times when a drop-off in productivity will occur. This is not surprising, but, of course, must be kept to acceptable levels, and the causes and remedies identified.
(Note: part 3 of this three-part article will be published in the next issue of the PI newsletter.)
Donald J. Cecchi is President of the Cecchi Consulting Group which specializes in reorganization, business development, and the design and implementation of new projects. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.