Continuous change is the new normal.
There really is no normal to go back to. There is only advancing to a new future.
As an organization prepares for this new future, a lot of change can happen. This change is almost inevitable. An organization may want to introduce a new concept or line of business, improve employee wellbeing or morale, or align themselves to better serve customers. All of these organizational changes can result in a need to modify their workspace and real estate. Today, we’ll share some best practices for effective change management to ensure your organization has a smooth transition to its new future.
First, let's define change management.
Change management refers to the discipline that includes processes, tools, and techniques that guide how you prepare, equip, and support individual employees to successfully adopt a change to drive organizational success and outcomes.
Now, let's get into best practices for change management.
1. Acknowledge The Need for Change
It is extremely important for an organization to first acknowledge the need for change. The change can come from many facets; it may be as simple as the organization has outgrown its space, has too much space, or needs to make its existing space more efficient. Other times, they may determine that the space is outdated or is not serving their customers in the best way.
As organizations evolve over time, systems can become outdated and require replacement. Older equipment often requires time-consuming and expensive repairs before eventually becoming the end of life. This may create a need to change all or a portion of the organization’s real estate strategy. Acknowledging the need for change is the first step in effectively managing what change is to come for an organization.
2. Create and Share the Future Vision
It is important to create and share a future vision; this can be as simple as communicating newly defined goals to your employees or customers. This could also be more complex and require visioning sessions with key stakeholders. The visioning sessions then help the organization develop a strategic plan with multiple milestones to reach its future vision.
Human nature tells us to resist change, we are often comfortable with the status quo. It is not uncommon when sharing the future vision, to be met with resistance from team members or customers. Sometimes the resistance is due to not being able to see the bigger picture and how the changes will benefit employees and/or customers.
Creating a team that has representatives from multiple disciplines or levels within the organization can provide many differing views and enhance buy-in across all levels. The team should include an executive sponsor as this can help remove barriers with top management. Change is often most effective when it comes down from the top.
3. Develop the Plan
Creating a change management strategy is an essential part of executing a future vision. This strategy should define each item that will be changed and how the change will occur. It is important that the changes are clearly defined and easy to understand. A single change in the built environment can have an impact on many different user groups. For example, a furniture change may be a larger impact on one particular team over another. Relocating to a different location may impact a key group of customers. Clearly defining each change and how it will occur will aid the project team as the plan progresses through implementation.
While creating a detailed plan, be sure to set up a framework to track the changes. Throughout the implementation of the plan, progress can be measured, and leaders can determine if there are additional unplanned changes that may be required.
Connecting the changes that will occur to company values or culture is a great way to help employees or customers relate to the plan. Perhaps the future vision is to create a more collaborative work environment, this may also tie back to a company value.
4. Commit and Communicate
Communication is extremely important to successfully implement change. Commit to the developed plan and emphasize the benefits to the organization to maintain buy-in not only after the initial announcement but as the change is implemented.
Provide frequent updates to the executive sponsor(s) and multidisciplinary team to help keep them involved and up to date on how the implementation is progressing. If there are any barriers or challenges, they may be able to help support or lead from the top down. Providing frequent updates to the employees or customers is equally important to keep them engaged throughout the process.
5. Implement and Push the Vision Forward
Reiterating the benefits and enhancements the change will have on the organization, is important as the changes are implemented. Ensure that the communication plan is followed so employees or customers feel comfortable with the change.
Listening to associates, customers, etc., and seeking input from peers or other project managers will help to define what is working or what needs to be changed. Determine what were their successes, what were their failures? Use these to help define the vision plan and to push forward its implementation.
You must become the vision’s cheerleader! Encouraging associates and making sure they are comfortable with the changes. Team meetings, individual one-on-ones will help them to understand how the changes could help them in their performance, by lessening the workload or simplifying the business processes.
Creating a survey or reaching out to employees and customers can be used to help the team understand what additional information needs to be shared or if additional assistance is needed to help adapt to the change. Ensure the implementation team is open to receiving feedback and has a desire to act on any feedback that is received.