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Pristine Blog

Change in Business - Friend or Foe?

Posted by Xina Seaton on Mar 3, 2016 4:00:00 AM

Change in Business - Friend or Foe?Change has always been a part of business and commerce. When the pocket watch became the de facto symbol of the modern businessman in 1800s, business changed--for the better. They saw that timekeeping could help with processing sales and meeting customer expectations. It was a truly transformational piece of technology. Today, we couldn’t imagine a world without it.

Change, however, comes faster and is more prevalent now. “Change is the only constant” may be a trite saying, but it’s true. Change is everywhere. It’s a business necessity in an economy where customer demand and expectations shift as quickly as the weather. Customers aren’t the only force in play; competition has never been higher thanks to globalization empowered by digital technologies and tools. In addition, businesses are seeking ways to drive efficiency and productivity in order to remain competitive and pull ahead in the marketplace.

If change is constant, it must be be easy - right?

1917 Ford Model TWrong. Managing change is where the difficulty lies for businesses seeking to move ahead in today’s marketplace. Pocket watches had too many obvious benefits for both the business and the businessman to not be adopted, but can the same be said of Henry Ford’s moving assembly line? Not likely. His invention revolutionized work as it was known, and it caused workers to fear for their jobs. They couldn’t embrace it as a value-add. Instead, they worried, “How can a machine possibly help me? What’s the company’s ‘real intent for making this change?”

If that scenario causes a sense of deja vu, it should. Your employees are thinking the same things about the technologies, tools, and applications introduced into their workplace. They might not generally oppose change, but it’s a different story when the change impacts them directly. Fear kicks in, red flags go up, and they begin to spiral downward.

This is why change management is critical. It drives successful business transformation as well as long-term business viability. It addresses the concerns people have about the “new,” whatever that new thing may be. It also keeps the organization in alignment and focused on outcomes. Here, we’ll briefly cover three areas essential to successful change management:

  • User Perception and Resistance
  • Organizational Alignment
  • Time and Resources

User Perception and Resistance

Change is like Cough MedicineUser perception and resistance are interwoven. If people perceive something to be a certain way, they respond accordingly. They may have no identifiable reason for the perception, but fear causes a gut-instinct conclusion.

Think of a kid with a cough. You know cough medicine is for their benefit, but the kid absolutely refuses to take it. “It tastes yucky!” they say, and spit it out. They don’t care about the end result; they care about the here and now in which cough medicine tastes bad and is therefore bad.

You can address those responses, but it takes time and some ingenuity. Maybe you have to find a different medicine that tastes better or even add a spoonful of sugar. Other times, a reward works. It might not be the best solution, but it works when the kid is shaking their head back and forth to avoid the spoon. If they’re older, you use more logical responses, i.e., if they take the medicine, they’ll feel better and get better faster. They can go play with their friends this weekend instead of staying home with a cough.

Change in the workplace is similar. “It’s hard to do or doesn’t actually help,” says one employee. Another worries, “This new technology could decrease my value to the company. Will I be laid off?”

These are people’s real perceptions, and they act in accordance with them. They use the tool, but do so grudgingly. They’re so afraid of messing up that they freeze on the job. They don’t know how to use the tool and are afraid to admit they need help.

Fortunately, none of these responses are set in stone. People’s actions can change. They just need help and direction from a project manager and supportive individuals in the company. Through dedicated managers and executives, perceptions can alter and resistance can lower.

Organizational Alignment

Change Management is like a Marathon RelayBusiness transformation doesn’t occur without buy-in from every level of the organization, which is why perceptions and resistance have to be addressed prior to implementing a technology. Everyone has to “feel the problem.” That is, employees and executives alike need to know and understand what’s happening and why, as well as the role they play and the benefit to them.

It’s helpful to think in terms of a marathon relay. If the team doesn’t actively and regularly train, they’ll lose on game day. If best practices and objectives aren’t communicated, team members will run at cross-purposes, if they run at all. Teammates have to see the impact they have on each other and the team as a whole. When they understand it, they run. They have a race to win and others are depending on them.

It’s no different with a global organization. People in the back-office and on the frontline are equally responsible for success in the workplace. When the benefits have been clearly communicated and concerns have been addressed, people will learn the new technology because they’re in alignment with the organization's new direction. They know where they’re heading, and have the tools, resources, and support to get there.

Time and Resources

Change Takes TimeChange may be fast-moving, but it’s still gradual. It takes time to roll-out. It should. Disrupting everything all at the same time is an almost certain way to fantastically fail.

Because of that, corporate change management should be planned out. It should have definite stages, milestones, and objectives. A success plan, full-time project manager, and validation projects are hugely beneficial when it comes to successful adoptions of new technologies and their corresponding processes and workflows.

In addition, resources should be made available. End users should have ready access to documentation, training, and support. They should also know that their feedback is welcome, will be listened to and acted upon. They won’t speak up if they don’t believe their input matters. It’s through strong communication practices, open cultures, and organizational support that employees will embrace new technologies and excel with them.

Technology investments are critical in today’s global market. But successfully implementing them requires adopting a change management strategy that addresses people’s perceptions and resistance, aligns the organization, and provides adequate time and resources. Such a strategy, coupled with a success plan, will increase not only adoption rates but also business profits.

Want to learn more about change management and its role in adopting a technology like EyeSight? Get in touch today.

Images: Jeffrey Smith, Sicnag, Guy Sie, Rosenfeld Media, frankieleon (Creative Commons)

Topics: organizational change, Change Management, change, technology investments, business transformation, resistance