I used to work for a manager who was fond of saying: The only constant is constant change. It’s true. I think he was quoting an ancient Greek, Heraclitus; it shows just how long the need for review and change has been going on.
Businesses certainly have to keep on their toes and ensure that they make the necessary changes to keep up with the demands of customers, the market, the law and good practice.
But change can be stressful and the way in which a business approaches the management of change can make or break the success of the process.
Change will be either radical or incremental.
Radical change is fairly self-explanatory. It’s big –bang stuff, throwing out all of the old all at once and in with the new, a jumping in at the deep-end activity. For many people that works.
But for others incremental change is easier and has a greater prospect of success. This is a process where you make a series of small but consistent changes. Incremental change tends to be less disruptive, less threatening, more easily understood and appear to be more achievable than radical change and for that reason, resistance tends to be lower.
Incremental change involves starting small and then adding to the change process, taking gradually larger steps each time. It’s all about getting some momentum going. If you keep the changes at too low a level for too long, you’ll get frustrated that you don’t seem to be getting anywhere. If you want to get fit, you run for one minute and walking for two, then, gradually, increase the distance until you’re able to run a mile, then two, then three...
Applying incremental change to business
Start small but plan and get into the habit of making slightly larger steps each time.
Here are our tips to help you succeed in those steps.
- What does success look like? How will you know you have achieved your goal? What kind of change is required?
- Set yourself up to succeed. Recognise the natural resistance to change; consider how to manage reactions from individuals, teams, stakeholders, customers or other areas of the company. Engage your people with change and what they have to gain by assessing the “what’s in it for me?” factor. Be clear with your people about what’s negotiable and what’s not.
- Set interim goals. Plan the process and allocate resources and a timescale for each goal. Identify and reward quick wins. If goals aren’t met, focus on improvement, not fault-finding.
- Get help. Engage your team and get them involved in talking about change. Recognise that people are far more inclined to support what they create, and resist what’s forced upon them.
- Make sure your communication with staff is two-way. Actively encourage and be open to feedback, suggestions and ideas. Set up regular briefings; even if there’s no news, still invest time in short meetings to check out how your people are feeling.
If you’re an employer with HR queries and problems, get in touch!
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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.
Copyright © 2022 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.
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