Business, regardless of its field, requires constant change. It must keep up with technology, competition, just like following trends in fashion and consumer habits. Any proposed change, however, will require people to implement it, which of course will impact others. In this article I will focus on the human aspect of these changes.
…for every action, there is a reaction
Even though businesses constantly develop and change, people are not ideally suited for this. We are crafted in a way, that we form an invisible shield, a comfort zone around ourselves. Most individuals feel best at the centre of their comfort zone where nothing unwanted disturbs the status-quo. Changes might start to force us out from the comfort zone, and as we are approaching its edge, people tend to push back, get disgruntled, or lose motivation entirely. The comfort zone can be expanded though, by deliberately spending time away from the centre. The size of the zone varies from person to person, and it makes some people more while others less open to changes.
Gradual transformation can be a great way of dealing with comfort zones. However, this takes time, and if you are about to change a business process, you might not be able to do it step by step, but it must happen overnight.
There are two simple, yet very effective ways to make people more receptive to even significant changes that are about to happen.
Transparency and education
Establishing transparency of what will happen is very important. Once people are aware of the changes in advance, understand the reasons and find their roles and motivations in it, then they will feel more comfortable with the situation. Additionally, they will be less stressed, more motivated and will perform better throughout the transition. Transparency is important for the entire organisation, even for those who are not directly affected by it. For them, there should be an option to learn more about the changes, if they so choose to.
Educating people on what has changed is not to be neglected either. Lack of knowledge may frustrate people to the extent they actually try to sabotage it. Everyone involved should receive sufficient information about how they are expected to deliver their day-to-day work under the new conditions. If besides the processes, the systems also change, those modifications will need to be introduced. It is wise to leave some time for people to mentally adapt to the new processes and make themselves comfortable with the modified screens.
Transformation of business is almost always about the transformation of business processes. Unfortunately, most organizations have little to zero documentation about their actual business processes. Even if they have anything at all, it is usually outdated and does not represent the actual state of the operation.
So as a start, it is helpful to create a bit of transparency and build up the knowledge base of processes, input and output data flows and the utilized systems.
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