Change management: three ways to help employees embrace innovation

Before establishing how change management can benefit business, it’s important to first ask why so many employees tend to hate change?

Usually, it’s for the same reasons any of us do. We get familiar with our routines and anything that disrupts our comfort, even if it provides us with more benefits in the long-term, is rejected or ignored.

But if we’re getting into the weeds, businesses should consider any of the following reasons for why the people in an organisation like things the way they are:

  • A loss of control and autonomy. When processes or structures change, people feel powerless, or that they don’t have control over the direction of their job, life, or career.
  • Uncertainty. Is their job on the line?
  • Distraction and confusion. Getting up to speed with new ways of working means often making mistakes and fumbling for a time before getting things right.
  • More work. A lack of knowledge of a new environment means an initial period of extra effort while things get in place.

The uncertainty is the concern that stands out. Without a clear vision, employees can’t be expected to be productive or engaged.

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Here’s the issue: change is a constant in a 21st-century business environment.

The rapid pace of transformation will affect every industry eventually, and many are already feeling the pinch. Success will come to businesses that disrupt themselves.

How then, can businesses create employees that are engaged, optimistic, and embrace change rather than reject it? Here are three ways that have worked for us.

#1. You need to build a process culture

Strong processes are the root of a well-run business. If people are able to explain exactly what everybody does, and how those roles relate to one another in the service of a higher goal, it becomes much easier to alter processes in the future. Disruption becomes a matter of improving the existing process, rather than wiping the slate clean.

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There are other benefits, too. Employees begin to think in an optimisation context, meaning they start to pick out improvements in different areas of the business, even ones unrelated to their own work.

Processes lower costs, too. For instance, an HR department that produces scalable processes ends up spending less money per employee.

Yes, there are trade-offs. Too much emphasis on processes can reduce the ability to respond quickly to evolving market trends.

However, there’s another way to combat that trend.

#2. Create a single source of truth

It’s one thing for a business to focus on making data-led decisions, but the question remains: on what data are you relying upon, and who has access to it?

Creating a central repository for every single process in your business creates a democratic and transparent environment. Employees can see how each process actually works, and can, therefore, recommend improvements to anything.

But the main advantage is that a central repository of processes means it takes less time to get new employees up to speed. Not only that, a central portal for process data means it also takes less time to train existing employees on process changes.

This makes it far easier to hasten the pace of change even within a large organisation.

#3. Show the benefit and share the tools

Creating a process culture, and placing those processes in easily accessible formats are two good first steps. The third is slightly more difficult: show exactly how those processes benefit the business.

Each area of the business needs to make sure it has specific use cases and metrics to measure against each process. Without them, the processes are simply random tasks that employees need to follow.

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At the same time, employees need access to the tools and infrastructure that make these processes work. Without that democratic approach, the process will simply feel like a burden.

Having established processes makes it easier to change

It’s much easier to start from an established base instead of changing everything outright. With a good change management plan in place, changes up to and including complete industry transformation will no longer be something for employees to fear; they will instead be just another opportunity to improve.

Written by Dr Gero Decker, CEO of Signavio

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