As a safety professional you are a change management machine. As a CMM (what’s one more acronym to remember?) you understand that change is necessary in order to improve. And in your world improvement means less people get hurt.
You base your change initiatives on the results of root cause analysis, audits and inspections, behavioral based observations, hazard identification, and any other of the multitude of methods you have acquired competence in. With all the work that goes into your change initiative, it’s no wonder that you grow frustrated each time a worthwhile change is either shut down before it even gets started or even worst, is given lip service but never really gets implemented as intended.
Despite the fact that most change initiatives deal with creating new or revising old processes or installing new equipment, we are still dealing with people when it comes to the actual implementation of the change. Every person brings a unique set of experiences, skills, bias’, and personal agendas to the workplace and as such your primary objective in change management is actually people management. Here are three things for you to think of that will help you successfully institute change within your organization.
Why this change, and why now
When you’re finally ready for change to be brought to the masses, remember those that you are applying the change to are only hearing about the changes for the first time. You have had a lot more time to get comfortable to the idea of change. As far as most of your organization is concerned, everything is fine as it is. Your first obstacle in managing the change is to present the idea in such a way that others will see the need for the change. They are also need to agree that the pain associated with making the change is less than the pain associated with remaining status quo. Without seeing a need for change and urgency to implement, the chances of success are slim.
They need to see that the pain associated with making the change is less than the pain associated with remaining status quo.
Structured, systematic, and written
Real change management is structured and has a systematic approach to implementation. It is not good enough to change a procedure (or create a new one for that matter) and just hope people will follow. Without a written plan (that’s right, I said write it down) of how you will implement this change, your efforts will likely be for not. What a successful change management program looks like is way too big to discuss in this article but if you’re having trouble in this area I suggest hiring a professional change manager to help until you get comfortable with developing a plan of attack.
Real change management is structured and systematic.
Implementation is just the beginning
Unfortunately what some people see as the end point in implementing a change is really only the start. All too often a new initiative or change to an old program is rolled out and that’s it. No follow up. Nowhere to go for help. Nothing. Each person in your organization will come into the change at different stages of readiness. To complicate the matter, each of those people will progress through the change at different rates. It is your job to determine where your key stakeholders are within the change process and meet them there, help them to the next stage, and guide them to the end.
Unfortunately what some people see as the end point in implementing a change is really only the start.
Although this is nowhere close to an exhaustive list of things to consider in successfully managing your change, these three items are a vital part to any successful change management program. By using them the next time you try to improve your workplace I predict you’ll have a much higher success rate and can move on to the next change with the confidence of knowing your change actually changes things.
Have you ever had a great initiative fail due the management of the change?
What is your best advice for someone who is trying to bring change to their organization?
Who do you find most challenging in terms of acceptance of change – upper management or the front line worker?