No, you can’t escape change. But you can learn to manage it

We live in turbulent times. With looming trade wars between China and the U.S.A., Brexit on the horizon and the ever-present possibility of dramatic technological transformation in the marketplace, the only thing that company directors can be sure of is the fact that change is coming, and it's coming soon.

Owen Hunnam
by Owen Hunnam
learn how to manage change

We always feel nervous when we find the world around us a little different than it was before. But change is never an inherently bad thing; it’s how we deal with it that defines whether market transformation is a challenge or an opportunity for our businesses.

In truth, most directors don’t handle change well. Research suggests that only one-quarter of companies see lasting gains from change management initiatives. On the positive side, that means that over 75% of your competition will fail to keep up with changing market conditions. If you can successfully ride the wave of expectation, innovation and disruption in your industry, you stand to make significant gains over the competition.

“People don’t resist change, they resist being changed”

We love this quote from Peter Senge over at MIT; it hits the nail on the head when it comes to the difficulties our clients face in managing sustainable innovation. When change comes from the top down, employees can be slow on the uptake or even aggressively resistant to new ways of working.

Lasting change is most often bred through bottom-up innovation – grassroots movements driven by those closest to the system with a vested interest in seeing it work. If innovation allows your salespeople to make more commission, your warehouse workers to take a break more often, or your marketers to hit their KPIs more comfortably, you can be confident that you’re creating efficiencies that will stick.

“Managers are a catalyst for successful change”
– via Willis Towers Watson

And that’s precisely why you need an Innovation Manager in place – not to affect top-down strategies that you believe are in line with the market, but to pay attention to the bottom-up solutions that are driven by true operational insight. Your change-management evangelists are in place to listen, clarify and guide your team through the changes that they already know they need to be making. They act, not as drivers of change, but as catalysts that enable faster adoption and a higher benchmark of insight across your team. Without them, you may find yourself slow to respond to the changing expectations of customers, suppliers and the market at large. And as you already know, speed to market is everything.

“People talk about being part of something larger than themselves” – via infed.org

At the end of the day, your company’s ability to embrace change will be rooted in the culture that you’ve built for yourself over years of operations. Listening to your employees gives them the feeling that they are part of something larger than themselves – that they have the power to influence the direction the company takes and that they will be rewarded for it. If you’ve done everything in your power to give your team the opportunity to try new things, the space to fail, the support they need to get back up and the motivation to keep going, the chances are that you’ll manage to stay in that rare 25% of innovative companies. These are the elements that keep employees invested in their work and connected to the broader vision of your company – the things that make them feel part of something larger than themselves.

To learn more about how organisations successfully embrace change management strategies, take a look at our innovation insights with Kent Police. They’ve got some truly remarkable strategies in place.

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