An organization without effective leadership is unlikely to be able to successfully implement change in the workplace. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to adopt and cultivate the characteristics and trademarks of successful change leadership.
From improving your communication skills and expanding your self-awareness to creating a workplace culture that encourages honest feedback, effective leadership is the foundation of helping employees learn new processes and skills that will, in turn, lead to successfully implementing change in the workplace.
Why Leaders Need a Plan For Implementing Change
As a leader in your organization, it’s not enough to dream big. Your innovative ideas can’t revolutionize the world until they’re successfully implemented in your own workplace. While implementation may seem straightforward, there’s actually a lot more to it than just sending out a company-wide memo.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand how implementing change will affect your organization. According to The Balance Careers, times of change are when your organization will experience the greatest disequilibrium. Whether big or small, any kind of change is a disruptor.
Heathfield implores leaders to accept the fact that changes may not go exactly according to plan. Similarly, implementing change often takes significantly longer than organizations anticipate. According to Heathfield, “new people and new technology can take up to 18 months to work effectively in your organization.”
First Steps to Successfully Implementing Change
Now that you understand implementing change in the workplace will take time, it’s helpful to have a plan in place for introducing new business processes. This plan will guide your decisions and actions as an effective leader.
For every effective leader, a key question is deciding how you’re going to communicate the process change. Human behavioral patterns teach us that people fear the unknown and change is the unknown. For that reason, considering your employee’s thoughts and behaviors is key to successful change implementation.
Based on the scale of the change you’re working to implement, you will need to decide the most effective way to communicate the process change. Will an email suffice, or is a company-wide meeting necessary?
Once you’ve decided on how to communicate the change, you must decide when is the best time to do so. In fact, it’s vital to give your team enough time to prepare themselves and not overwhelm them with too many changes at once.
Effective leaders must take care to ensure the conditions are right to share their visions. Sharing your vision is the third step in introducing new business processes. When the conditions are right, employees will likely be more receptive to change and new ideas.
To further encourage acceptance when you share your vision, give employees the “why” behind the new changes instead of just telling employees what they will be doing.
Sharing the “why” behind your vision is essential to the fourth step of successfully implementing change in the workplace: addressing uncertainty.
Any type of change is likely to cause uncertainty. Change frequently initiates stress and concerns among employees, which can lead to resistance to change. Effective leaders know that if they’re going to successfully implement change in the workplace they must work with their employees by addressing the stress and concerns that may emerge as a result of change.
When implementing change, effective leaders create problem-solving groups to address stress and concerns among employees. It’s imperative to cultivate a workplace culture that encourages candid feedback. Employees need regular opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings. Heathfield recommends periodically scheduling total staff reviews of the changes.
At these total staff reviews, effective leaders will encourage employees to own the changes by involving them in the process. Give your staff a personal stake in the success of the implementation. Heathfield suggests telling your team exactly what you need from them to make the new systems succeed.
Rather than just expecting employees to get on board, effective leaders communicate and provide feedback so everyone knows and understands where the organization is in the implementation process in order to facilitate the sharing of the employee feedback they wanted in the first place.
Across industries, including health administration, good communication is one of the characteristics that makes a great leader. According to Ohio University, ineffective leaders often fall into the trap of blaming organizational breakdown on anything other than their own shortcomings. Effective leaders assume responsibility and use their communication skills to support their teams when implementing change in the workplace.
Communicating the Specifics
When the lines of communication are open between you and your team, you’re in a good position to expand your self-awareness. It’s important to understand not everyone will react to the changes your organization is trying to implement in the same way.
How can you achieve a more well-rounded perception? Your employees are in the best position to identify the problems that may be hindering the success of your changes, according to Heathfield.
For example, one of the problems undermining the success might be the fact that your employees need specific technical training that was not anticipated earlier. Rather than forcing everyone to learn in the same way, consider the concept of asynchronous learning.
Exploring the concept of asynchronous learning can help you understand how people learn new skills and processes at different speeds and in different ways. Furthermore, investing in employee development can improve productivity and cultivate loyalty.
Ensuring employees have the necessary tools and training to learn new skills and processes at their own pace may be the final step in implementing change in the workplace, but effective leaders continue to monitor the results from the changes even after the initial goals have been met.
Over time, adjustments may need to be made. There may even be opportunities for further training, which can help cement the knowledge and skills employees have learned. Leaving the door open can result in the benefits of a successfully implemented change lasting for decades.