Goodbye To One-Off Attempts

Change is inevitable, but, is majorly not as easy as it is presumed to be. Change transpires when a company undergoes a transition from its current state to some future state, and, plays a major role in the same HR function. Organisational change is not a single-time measure, but, should be a continuous process of planning and implementing change across the organisation. It should be carefully managed so that it reduces employee resistance and cost to the organisation, while simultaneously maximizing the effectiveness of change management. In today's business era, technology is advancing rapidly, and, requires companies to undergo change management at a speedy pace, or almost constantly from time to time if they really wanted to maintain their competitive advantage and sustain in a highly volatile market. In fact, certain factors such as globalization of markets and rapidly evolving technology are pushing businesses to respond to change management in order to survive.

 

Introduction or adaptation of new technologies, downsizing, reskilling, reorganizing divisions or expansions are all instances of change that organisations are undergoing these days. Though, you may find yourselves not ready for some of the changes that may well be down the line, one can at least develop a good and strategic change management plan to come back. Change is an important part of an organisation. Irrespective of the brand value that the organisation demands, there is always something that we need to work on —be it improving a product, optimizing a process, or offering more dynamic services. If we rest on our laurels, we often end up stagnating and falling behind our competitors which impacts our customers too.

 

In Quotes “Irrespective of the brand value that the organisation demands, there is always something that we need to work on —be it improving a product, optimizing a process, or offering more dynamic services.

 

The changes also bring certain barriers and challenges, and it has wisely been quoted that nothing comes easy. Anticipating the roadblocks beforehand helps you avoid them before they become major issues in the change implementation. Changes should be designed in accordance with service delivery to the customer and employee wellbeing. Planning and implementing change, both on a cultural and technological plane, is one of the most challenging aspects of change management. 87% of employees believe there is not enough focus by the companies on how to change effectively (McKinsey 2015), and, 90% of CEOs believe their leadership and organisations do not have the required agility to change (Bersin by Deloitte, 2016).

 

While preparing for organisational change, some points worth considering are: -  

 

1. Identifying change attributes

2. Workforce impact analysis  

3. Evaluating the organisation

4. Evaluating the project risks

5. Understanding special tactics

6. Presenting the strategy

 

Some important to be considered prior to the implementation are: -

 

· Starting from the Top Management: Leadership team in companies must be doubly sure about the change. There are a few key and highly obvious aspects directed at change in the leadership team- clarity, purpose, and focus.

 

· Understand both hard and soft factors: There are both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors that undergo change. Soft factors include culture and motivation which are highly important aspects in any change, if companies want to ensure a healthy morale during change management.

 

· Develop a strategic workforce plan: The importance of strategic workforce planning is very huge, and, cannot be particularly emphasized. A well-developed plan can render the change easy. This apart, it also helps in predicting future changes on the lines that you can expect to arrange your workforce.

 

· Emphasize on Employee Engagement: It is important to help create employee engagement across all levels in the organisation. When change occurs, you may experience team shifts. This can lead to frustration, fear, and ultimately disengagement. In this scenario, the management and employee should work towards reskilling that can yield a positive impact, and, ensure that the organisation and its workforce is mutually benefitted.

 

And, for the above, it is important to know what stage of life cycle each employee is at, and, how this might affect how he or she reacts to the change. Find ways to mentor and acknowledge employees through change that will help them to be positive. The employees or team members who have a positive attitude about the change should encourage others, and, thus ensure that it is likely to be adaptable and successful.

 

The impact of VUCA

 

In today’s scenario, VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) has become an important norm. We now have a greater data dump than ever before, owing to which, we are more uncertain about the future. In a simpler context, the world today has become overwhelmingly complex, and, a new technology is introduced is being introduced on a highly regular basis, new research surfaces, and, day by day new customer trends are developing because they are becoming smart and well informed as ever.

 

Today’s success may not last

 

Actually, what works today might not work tomorrow, or, can deplete or lose its relevance the very next day. Nothing can save organisations from VUCA, and, the frameworks are not definitely about certainty these days. They are more about supporting companies in managing or leading in uncertainty. We today, are living, breathing and navigating through VUCA most of the time. And, it is apparent as to how disruptive technologies are reinventing business models. In today’s scenario, companies continue to be affected by a multitude of changes, and, it directly impacts the way they operate. With increasing volatility, the constantly changing customer expectations and continuous technology advancements to business models, it is the agility of an organisation that can come to its aid in overcoming the storm of changes that it is being hit with every day.

 

On the contrary, the difficulty and the disruptions in today’s business environment are continuously hampering the visibility of businesses beyond a quarter, hindering organisations’ ability to construct long-term plans that require them to continually innovate themselves. Smartly adapting and upgrading as per these external changes through continuous internal transformations is the identity of the VUCA world in which we are living. It is therefore the responsibility of the leadership team to visualize and forecast these changes before time, and, it has to be reflective in the strategies they create. They have to monitor the speed with which the changes are occurring in today’s scenario, and, should carry a strong self-belief, and, construct a culture which can adapt to change.

 

In Quotes “The difficulty and the disruptions in today’s business environment are continuously hampering the visibility of businesses beyond a quarter, hindering organisations’ ability to construct the long-term plans …

 

Difficulties, challenges and communication breakdowns

 

Some issues involved in change management that can be the main reasons why change primarily fails are:

 

1. Getting into too much complexity: Getting involved into too much detail instead of having an eye on the bigger picture.

2. Unable to build a substantial coalition: Failing to create coordination in teams that drive the change.

3. Limited vision: Being unable to understand with clarity is the biggest mistake. If companies do not know where they are going, how they can anticipate future? If leadership team is not able to see the correct direction, they will strict to old ways of working.

4. No Vision: No Vision in an organisation means no future goal to drive further.

5. Permitting roadblocks against the vision: Being unable to anticipate the potential roadblocks, and not acting on them well in time is the big sign of failure.

6. Not planning short-term wins: It is obviously a long process and without quick wins that is visible to everyone, morale suffers, demotivation increases processes, and the ways of working gets hampered, and, are unlike what they were before the change.

7. Declaring victory too soon: Celebrating success is a good thing, but we should take our foot off the pedal. The minute you celebrate victory in the plan, the minute leaders stop enforcing the message, things simply fall back – it is a long process.

8. Not securing changes in corporate culture: Through implementation and adaptation of the vision and periodical reviews and audits, the culture gradually changes and remains anchored. If a change programme incorporates a quick implementation and there is nothing to reinforce this, it will positively fail!

 

The bottom line is, issues related to change management primarily arise because companies focus majorly on dealing with the change in people, and, expect everything to be ok. Everyone has their own beliefs and values, and, we need to embrace the change and believe in this. If we are unable to see the benefit and vision, then we simply do not embrace the change, and, it will naturally create a barrier. So, from this it can be derived or understood that greater the workforce number that does not appreciate change, greater the possibility of failure. Communication, therefore, is crucial, and, communicating the vision is doubly imperative.

 

Indeed, change management is a very important part of any company, and, one of the most important components of change management is communication. Communication is considered to be an important issue in the successful implementation of change because the tool is used for announcing, explaining, and, further preparing people for change and helps in maintaining the transparency in the system. Many organisations do not take any efforts to communicate the news to employees. They simply announce what the changes will be, and, expect everyone to accept them. Resistance is one of the barriers created out of this, and, communication is an important way to negate such feelings, so that employees are prepared well on time and are ready to embrace the change.

 

Four important activities related to creating and implementing a communication plan are:

 

1. Describe the predominant situation and the need for communication, which is called the research phase

2. Analyse the targets and objectives for communication and determine the target audience

3. Implement communication plan, which is the phase of communicating

4. Evaluate the performance and determine the level of success based on the results

 

Environment, goals, key messages, audience, and media are the main parts of the compiled communication plan. 

 

Impact and role of the workforce: Organisational change can occur due to several reasons, viz. financial concerns, increased competition, accommodating growth or a simple shift in the business model. Whatever the reason, change is very difficult for employees, and, before any changes take place, the management should think from an employee perspective as to their possible reactions, and the manner in which risks to the company can be mitigated.

 

Demotivation can be the major factor: Change in organisation at any point of time can lead to stress or demotivation within employees which can have a great negative impact on morale, if poorly handled by the HR. To avoid such a situation, I believe communication is critical during such times, and to certain extent, companies should strive to share as much information about what is happening around, and, most importantly, how the changes will affect individual employees so that they are well prepared.

 

The need for workforce planning

 

Workforce planning plays a vital role here, which in itself is a difficult task, but, if we take care of following points, change is bound to be easy. Companies should be prepared rather than be surprised with the help of workforce planning, which is an extremely systematic, completely integrated organisational process. They can effectively manage the change as it involves future planning to avoid talent surpluses or shortages. Smart workforce planning is based on the fact that a company can be staffed more efficiently, if it is able to forecast its talent needs as well as the actual supply of talent.

 

If a company is efficient enough, it can obviously override layoffs or panic hiring with the help of strategic planning in place. HR can provide managers with the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place, and at the right time. In broad terms workforce planning can also be termed as an efficient way of talent planning, because, it merges the forecasting elements of each of the HR functions that relate to the workforce- recruiting, retention, redeployment, leadership and employee development and, when such things are taken care off, I believe change will become a great deal more simpler and easier. It can be embraced across the organisation.

Anshu Gupta is Vice President and Head of Human Resources, Ericsson India Global Services. A seasoned HR Transformative leader with nearly two decades of cross border experience, he has been in various leadership roles in Human Resources across organisations such as Ericsson, Wipro, Hewitt Associates etc. Anshu played a pivotal role in Ericsson HR Global Operations achieving the CMMI Level 5 Appraisal model.

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