Change Management: 5 Ways to Tell If a Change Will Actually Improve Your Organization

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change management - 5 ways to tell if change will improve your business

Change can be — but isn’t always — a good thing. Here are five change management questions that indicate whether changes proposed will make your business better.

Ask These 5 Change Management Questions to Decide if Change Will Be for the Better

Many business leaders get caught up in change and forget that change isn’t always a good thing. Answer these five questions as you evaluate potential changes in your organization to make sure that you are improving – not just changing things.

Most who studied improvement and change management strategies or who worked in the 80’s and 90’s (especially for those who worked in manufacturing settings) have some knowledge of the principles of “TQM” or Total Quality Management.

One of the foundational principles found within TQM systems is the idea of continuous improvement. And continuous improvement can be boiled down to this: Managed change, for the better. Business leaders constantly espouse the need for change and organizational agility – to the extent that, for many, change itself has become a virtuous quality.

Somewhere along the road, some forgot that change isn’t always a good thing; in a rush to change in response to perceived changes in the marketplace, emergence of new rivals or technology or simply a desire to shake things up, sometimes we don’t stop to evaluate whether we are actually improving things – or merely changing to say “we are changing”.

Continuous improvement is defined as: An ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes. Improvements may be incremental and range from small changes to the truly transformative. Key features of the continuous improvement process include:

Improvements that benefit the company (and may also improve working conditions for employees) based on many, small changes (vs. system replacements or complete transformations) on an on-going basis.

Most – if not all – ideas for improvements come from the employees themselves (the people actually doing the jobs that will be affected).

  • Incremental improvements can be made more readily as they usually involve a lower cost than transformative changes or new systems
  • Cost savings is also achieved because the ideas come from talents within the workforce, rather than research and development studies or consultants
  • Employees are more likely to adopt changes that they initiate or endorse

And, all employees should continually be looking for ways to improve their own performance, job or the workplace.

  • Continuous improvement “thinking” helps employees to take ownership for their work and to take a deeper interest in their job and company,
  • Improvements made as a result of employee initiatives also help improve employee morale and motivation

Obviously, the workforce itself is a huge player when it comes to continuous improvement. One reason that so many changes fail to take root is that the employees responsible to implement them don’t have a chance to buy in prior to adoption.

The more important it is to change or improve something within your organization, the more important it is for you to have employee buy in prior to implementation. Otherwise, efforts are likely to fall short – and many organizations have a pile of good ideas discarded on the wayside simply because they failed to effectively communicate the benefits of those changes to the employees responsible to execute them.

The answers to these five questions can help you decide if your organization is ready for change, and whether your ideas for change are truly going to improve your business.

change management - 5 ways to tell if change will improve your business

Make sure your change management process includes a way to determine potential benefits before changes are implemented. Here are five questions to help you evaluate whether your organization is ready for change, and whether you are truly improving things for the better.

Change Management: 5 Ways to Ensure that Change Will Be for the Better

1. Where did the idea/s come from?

If ideas came from the employees doing the job/s that will be affected, it’s likely that they represent potential improvements to one or more of these: a process, the customer experience or the employee work environment.

If ideas came from outside of the workforce that will be affected, it’s doubly important that – prior to mandating changes – the employees who will be affected have the opportunity to evaluate the proposed changes, provide feedback and make suggestions.

2. What results do you expect to occur after making the change, and how will you measure whether they occur?

Whether an idea originates with employees or managers, it’s important to identify the desired outcome and set a deadline and benchmarks against which results will be measured. Failure to achieve desired outcomes could indicate another problem such as the need for more time or even indicate the need to make additional course corrections.

3. What other systems or employees could potentially be affected by the changes?

It’s possible to effect an improvement in a process that – unintentionally – creates a glitch or problem somewhere else. You can minimize the chance of this by involving representatives from other departments in the evaluation process to ensure that no other systems will be negatively affected or modify your plan accordingly.

4. Is your organization ready for change?

Are all of the employees who will be affected by or will be responsible to change the way they do their jobs on board? Do you have sufficient resources to fully implement the improvements?

5. Are you soliciting – and rewarding – employee suggestions?

Few would argue that the people doing the jobs are in the best position to suggest the “many, small changes” that have the ability to reduce costs, save time, improve a process, customer experience or the workplace itself. Creating a system for soliciting, fairly evaluating and rewarding the suggestions that are adopted can lead to a number of process improvements over time.

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