“It is not the strongest species that survives nor the most intelligent but the ones most responsive to change”- Charles Darwin.
This was written on a wall in a conference room at Zimmer, Shannon when I was attending an information session for human resource managers. It makes you stop and think, especially in these turbulent economic times.
Every HR manager can tell you how quickly people get used to something new which they like and get very upset if this is taken away. This applies to any group of people. I see it with my family, voluntary groups, business groups and employment situations. Yet if you wish to be successful you need to be receptive to change in order to survive. This applies to single persons and groups of people in organisations.
People tend to be more effective if they are familiar with tasks and have to perform them in a routine or repeated way. Even with behaviour it works like this if you can repeat the same behaviour for 28 days it becomes a habit and you then will routinely perform this new behaviour. Yet once you get used to it, it will be difficult to let it go again.
Yet we see, as Darwin mentioned, that if you are more receptive to change you will be more successful in survival.
How can you manage this receptiveness to change with your staff in your company? Is there a structured approach to managing change? There are a number of things you could do which would be helpful if you need to change things in your organisation
Communication – Have good communication structures in place and explain the reasons why the company is taking actions. Organise information and consultation sessions with your employees and keep them abreast regarding the developments which affect the organisation. Be timely with your information, do not let your employees read or hear about changes at the company trough, newspapers or television.
Trust – Create an environment of trust between management and staff members. Trust is only built up over a period of time yet trust can evaporate in a very short time period. Be straight, honest and diplomatic with your staff members. Trust is built by being a positive influence, being consistent and being predictable in your behaviour.
Goal Orientated – Staff members need to know what is the goal of the change what will be achieved with the change and what is the required end result of the exercise. A very novel way could be to involve staff members in setting the goals – you might be surprised to see what they come up with.
Project Management – A good way to organise the whole change process is using project management methods to structure the change process. Project Management makes you organise your resources and people available to achieve the change process and to have a clear timetable regarding what has to be achieved.
Regularly Change – Organisations need regular change. If you haven’t changed anything in years it will be difficult to manage any change as there will be fierce resistance. If you change too much too fast people get tired of it and get irritated about the need and pace of change. Remember most people prosper in a familiar environment in which they know what is expected of them and what their tasks are. If this becomes unclear because of the pace of change it can backfire on the change process. Change needs to be at a steady pace if it isn’t it will destroy the structures necessary to be able to work effectively.
We have learned that change needs to be constant, that the organisation needs to be aligned with their environment and needs to be responsive to change. Change must be on the agenda of any management team and can’t be taken off when business seems to be going fine again.
Finally grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things that we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.