More than seventy percent of change projects or initiatives within an organisation fail – why? Typically organisations are not taking a consistent or holistic approach to change management, nor are they engaging their workforces effectively to do so. Whether it’s new initiatives, adopting technological improvements, shifting work methodologies from being compliance heavy to advisory based , or simply just wanting to stay ahead of the competition – these factors all drive ongoing changes to the way we work.

2015_SEP_ALL_PRODUCTIVITY - How to Sucessfully Implement and Embed Change

Regardless of whether you’re considering a small change to one or two processes, or a company-wide change, it’s common for staff to feel intimidated by it. Below we’ve outlined progressive steps to take to successfully implement change in your organisation.

Number 1: Create Momentum

For change to happen, it helps if the whole company supports it and can see the benefits. Opening an honest dialogue about what’s happening certainly helps. For example, when introducing a new product, showing the scope of the product and what it can do for your company and your clients can disarm fear. If you ‘buy in’ to the change proposed, the momentum can build and feed on itself.

What you can do to build momentum:

  • Demonstrate what would happen if you didn’t make the change and what else it could affect in the future.
  • Start honest discussions with your team and give dynamic and convincing reasons to get people talking and thinking about the change.
  • Request support from customers in this instance who may love the product, outside stakeholders and others known in the industry to strengthen your argument.

In order for change to be successful, Kotter suggests that 75 percent of a company’s management needs to support it. This first step is imperative to be able to build momentum to move onto the next steps.

Number 2: Form a Powerful Coalition

Convince people that change is necessary. This often takes strong leadership and visible support from key people within your organisation. You have to lead the change from within.

To lead the change, you need to find and bring together effective change leaders throughout your organisation. They don’t necessarily have to follow the traditional company hierarchy and could come from a variety of areas of the business.

Often when we help implement Spotlight Reporting tools into a practice, we see someone in the firm who this change really resonates with. They are very effecting at leading the charge and igniting a sense of urgency with others. It’s great to encourage this person and make them part of the team leading the process of change, if they aren’t already.

Once formed, your “change coalition” needs to work as a team, continuing to build urgency and momentum around the need for change.

What you can do:

  • Identify the influencers in your organisation for this change, as well as your key stakeholders.
  • Ask for an emotional commitment from these key people.
  • Work on team building within your change coalition.
  • Check your team for weak areas, and ensure that you have a good mix of people from different levels within your firm.

Number 3: Create a Vision for Change

Creating an overall vision that people can easily grasp and recall means that when you first start thinking about change, you have something you can link the many great ideas and solutions that inevitably arise.

A clear vision can help everyone understand why you’re asking them to do something. When people can grasp for themselves what you’re trying to achieve, then the directives you give them to enable it can make more sense.

What you can do:

  • Determine the values that are central to the change.
  • Develop a short summary (one or two sentences) that captures what you “see” as the future of your organisation.
  • Create a strategy to execute that vision.
  • Ensure that your team leading the change are all on the same page.

Number 4: Communicate the Vision

How you communicate your vision will determine your success. You will find your message may conflict with other day-to-day communications to begin with. To ensure it stays front of mind, make sure you communicate it frequently and powerfully, and embed it within everything that you do.

What you can do:

  • Talk often about the vision and change.
  • Address people’s concerns and anxieties about it openly and honestly
  • Make sure the visions is applied to all aspects of the operations. For example ensure it’s added to the training and induction program and is encapsulated into the relevant job descriptions and evaluations.
  • Lead by example.

Number 5: Remove Obstacles

So you’ve been communicating your vision and getting buy-in for the change from the organisation. But is anyone resisting it? Are there any processes or structures that are providing obstacles for it?

Continually checking for obstacles that can arise and then removing them can empower the people you need to execute your vision, and can help the change move forward.

What you can do:

  • Identify, or hire, change managers whose core role is to deliver the change.
  • Look at your organisational structure, job descriptions, and performance and compensation systems to ensure they’re in line with your vision.
  • Recognise and reward people for making change happen.
  • Identify people who are resisting the change, and help them see what’s needed.
  • Take action to quickly remove barriers rather than letting them fester.

Number 6: Create Short-Term Wins

Nothing motivates more than success. Create short-term targets – not just one long-term goal. You want each smaller target to be achievable, with little room for failure. Each “win” that you produce can further motivate all the staff especially if it’s a big change requiring a longer process and help keep them on task.

What you can do:

  • Look for sure-fire projects that you can implement without help from any strong critics of the change.
  • Don’t choose early targets that are expensive. You want to be able to justify the investment in each project.
  • Reward people who help you meet the targets.

Number 7: Build on the Change

Launching one new product using a new system is great. But if you can launch 10 products, that means the new system is working. To reach that tenth success, you need to keep looking for improvements.

Each success provides an opportunity to build on what went right and identify what you can improve.

What you can do:

  • After every win, analyse what went right, and what needs improving.
  • Set goals to continue building on the momentum you’ve achieved.
  • Develop a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Keep ideas fresh by bringing in new people to lead the change.

Number 8: Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Your Culture

Finally, to make any change stick, it should become part of the core of your organisation. Make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect, giving it a solid place in your organisation.

It’s also important that your company’s leaders continue to support the change. This includes existing staff and new leaders who are brought in. What you can do:

  • Talk about progress every chance you get. Tell success stories about the change process, and repeat other stories that you hear.
  • Include the change ideals and values when hiring and training new staff so it is enforced from the start.
  • Publicly recognise key members and enablers of the change.
  • Create plans to replace key leaders of change as they move on. This will help ensure that their legacy is not lost or forgotten.

Gayatri Wood Spotlight Reporting

Spotlight Reporting provides four cloud business intelligence tools for accountants, advisors and CFO’s. Our award winning tools import data from leading accounting and non-financial software products, automatically creating powerful reports, dashboards and forecasts. We give progressive accountants the tools they need to have valuable conversations with their clients and to grow a trusted advisory relationship.