Leading Change Effectively

Leonor Urena

Leading Change Effectively

agile-literacy

Managing change within the workplace is one of the biggest challenges faced by any business. Not only is it notoriously difficult for owners, directors and senior management to implement, it is also hard for employees to accept as many are naturally wary of and unsettled by change. They often feel a loss of control, concern over the security of their job, a lack of support, confused by the proposed changes and distrust of their employer. Therefore, it takes a certain amount of skill and experience to be able to lead change effectively. But first, let’s take a look at some of the primary reasons why change may be required within a business, starting with external forces. External forces are developments outside of your company that have an impact on your structure, people, product or processes, and require change in order for your organization to continue to thrive. These can include:

  • Workforce diversity

  • Globalization

  • Developments in technology

  • Economic changes

  • Competitor developments

There are also internal factors that can force change:

  • Organizational restructuring

  • New direction of product development

  • Staff turnover

  • Performance reviews

  • Process reviews

In order to successfully implement the changes that your business needs to make, you first need to create an environment and workforce that is open, flexible and reactive. That is where Agile comes in. Teams that are Agile accept that evolution of requirements within a project is natural, and so are able to understand and support changes that happen within their organization, whether they be small procedural tweaks or large-scale restructuring. Implementing and managing change effectively is easier within an Agile business environment. Here are three of the primary reasons why.  

Focus on Communication

A lack of clear, concise and useful communication is one of the biggest reasons that employees are opposed to change within their workplace. No matter where your employees fall in the business hierarchy, they deserve to be informed about what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, and what impact it will have on them and their job. Businesses should also demonstrate trust in their staff and explain exactly why the changes are necessary, and be prepared to answer any questions that their people may have. This will help to combat the fear of the unknown and distrust that many employees feel when their company announces change. Agile places a great deal of emphasis on the importance of great communication for effective teamwork and sets procedures for when and how team members should interact and communicate with one another. This can be applied to change management, by clearly defining who people should direct questions to and in what format, making it much easier to clarify information and ensure that everyone is on the same page. A scrum master with experience in change management is the ideal person for this job. Agile teams are also far more capable of reviewing changes objectively, and communicating their thoughts and opinions in such a way that they can be used as valuable feedback to improve whatever area of the business that is affected.  

Iterative Working

When implementing change, sometimes there can be so much to get done that it can be hard to know where to start. One of the core practises of Agile is iterative working. In a nutshell, tasks are prioritized and allocated to specific time periods that can be as short as a week or as long as a month. These are known as sprints and help teams to focus. All members are aware of what needs to happen during the spring, and can effectively track progress and any impediments to success, thereby maximizing the team’s ability to manage their work successfully in the long-term. This is important during times of organizational evolution as it allows for much more precise feedback of the new processes, procedures and people, and ensures that the tasks that are assigned are valuable to the changes being put into place.  

Continuous Improvement

A business may have identified the need for change, but there is no guarantee that the implementation strategy that they decide upon will be effective. Therefore, a certain amount of trial and error may be required, which takes time and resources. This is where iterative working is beneficial as it helps teams to recognize if something isn’t working, and can prevent a costly waste of resources. However, in many organizations employees are unwilling to put their suggestions forward because they fear repercussions if they fail. This isn’t the case with Agile. In fact, Agile encourages an environment of continuous improvement where mistakes and failures are seen as stepping stones towards success, and where employee contributions are valued and celebrated. This is facilitated by embracing skill sharing, and holding regular feedback sessions in the form of daily stand-ups and end-of-sprint retrospectives. This will help your staff to accept organizational changes as they are actively involved in their evaluation, and ensure that your business continues to improve and thrive.   Effectively implementing change requires measured flexibility. To be flexible your business needs to be Agile. Agile philosophies and practises can get your teams on board with the changes in your organization, smoothing the transition and propelling you towards success. Don’t let the prospect of change cause fear in your company, contact us today for a no-obligation chat.  

About our guest writer

Sustainable Games
I am an Agile coach with a passion to help teams to collaborate, strategize, cooperate and to deliver solutions that are in direct support of strategic initiatives. An agile transition is all about people and interactions and that is my concentration. I apply gamification, and proven techniques to motivate teams. Through these techniques I support teams to drive specific behaviors that contribute towards more effective, productive and harmonious working relationships regardless of the methodology or framework used.

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