A few weeks ago, someone asked me how I might successfully make changes in the work place with staff, policy, programs, etc.
“How have you managed change while serving in leadership? How can you successfully try to move staff to embrace change and what strategies seem to have been most successful?”
Since change is one thing that remains constant in life and in the workplace, this was a question I put into action many times. It seems changes take place much more rapidly now than ever before. Technology, ideas, business strategies, collaborative efforts, staff changes, turnover, government regulations, etc. impact the need for frequent changes.
As a professional, I’ve worked with many different types of businesses over the years, including my own, and I have given presentations at conferences and workshops on this and similar topics. Training, mentoring and team building in any organization are essential to establish communication, confidence, and to build the right vision as part of working toward a common goal. “Positive People Make Positive Changes.” I’ve found the most effective way to make changes is to continually improve programming, service, professional development and staff placement. The leader may be the “positive force” behind the plan, but cannot be the “enforcer” of the plan. After all, most of the changes made will impact those who are responsible for effectively putting the plan into action. Therefore, it is essential to engage the appropriate staff in the process.
This particular process would begin with Evaluation/Assessment. Although this may be tedious and time consuming, it is essential to zero in on which changes need to be made or how effective the changes you made are working. If you want to know what people think, you need to ask them and take their input seriously. In order to glean useful information, it is important to use a variety of evaluation tools and gain input from all those involved, i.e.; personnel, clients, community members, businesses, whoever has a stake in the program or services you provide. You need a well-rounded view to gain the most insight from your evaluation. Tabulate the information received and use it to make the necessary adjustments. There may be a need to make slight alterations; you may find that you need to re-think an entire area of programming, service or business practice. Then again, you may find a complete overhaul is needed and use this opportunity to try something brand new.
Design a plan and then set up strategic planning meetings with your staff to discuss possibilities and listen to their ideas and suggestions. As a leader, it is important to understand not just the programming and staffing needs but also the needs and concerns of your team. It is imperative to unite as a team and compose the big picture of what you want to accomplish while instilling a renewed passion for their positions and how vital they are to the success of the program. Being part of the change process creates positive people who have a unified positive outlook and will make a positive effort to implement the changes needed.
Effective changes are implemented systematically and incrementally. Making too many changes at once can be a shock to the business, the team and your clients. Create a detailed plan to determine what alterations need to be made and place them in an order that will have the most optimistic outcome, boost the quality of the program or service, enhance the productivity of your team and create a positive response from your clients.
Look for ways to continue to make steady changes throughout the life of the business. People have a habit of “settling in”, being content with the status quo and becoming complacent. This creates an adverse environment to change. Their attitude may be, “If your team and clients are happy with what they have, why change?” Introducing incremental alterations keep your team moving forward and will produce an environment that inspires creativity and a desire to explore new ideas and possibilities. For your clients, they will remain interested, engaged and will look forward to participating in the new or updated programs and services you offer. If “positive change” is a regular part of the work routine it can become an exciting and motivating part of the professional process; something to look forward to instead of something to resist.
Set a timeline for your changes take effect. Once you have given time to see how your changes work you should begin an evaluation/assessment process to measure their response and effectiveness. Evaluating at the end of a session, class or season is the best time to make these assessments, while the experience is still fresh. Look for other key opportunities throughout the year to ask questions and receive input, especially if you have an idea that you would like to “float by” your audience to see if there is an interest or a need that must be filled in your programming or services. Once you have your assessments completed it is time to begin the process once again as you keep searching for ways to improve your business and client services.