“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.”—Arnold Bennett
Change. Discomfort. We may all be a little more familiar with those things than we want to be these days. Change is sometimes good, sometimes not so – but it’s always there. And managing change can be even more difficult. As a leader, there are three key aspects to managing change successfully:
Make sure people understand why you are making a change. When it comes to warehouse management software implementations, those are a drastic change to many people because a lot of people will see the impacts, not just a few. Conveying the reasons why you’re changing and helping people understand those reasons is very important. Communicating what this change is going to improve is also important to those who are going to be impacted. Clear and frequent communication leads to understanding which is vital to managing change.
Many times, change is rejected, not because it’s bad, but simply because people don’t feel like they had a say. They may not have a true idea of why something is changing. Giving them that inclusion in the process is important. Something we’ve seen when we implement software is that often the leaders think they know exactly how something works in the building. That’s not necessarily the case. We may go through a design session and even into a proof of concept session and then suddenly we learn otherwise. It’s a “wait a second” moment because what we were told what was happening, isn’t necessarily what we’re seeing happen out there on the floor. The reason for that is because the users that are actually performing the job weren’t included when the leaders told us about their processes. Inclusion helps everybody. It helps the leaders understand what’s truly happening and what can be improved, and it helps those who are doing the job understand what’s going to change for them and why. Inclusion makes managing change so much smoother.
And then lastly, awareness. We like to further subdivide awareness into three different groups. First, think about those who will hear about the software changes. Think of your customers. Think of those that might see the end result. And then you have those that will see the software, that don’t necessarily interact with it, but they are going to see the results of it. So, people like your customer service representatives, things of that sort, your sales team, etc. Then finally you have those that will use the software. So, think of it as See, Hear, Use. If you treat each one of those groups separately, it’s going to be a different level of change management for each and that will help you manage communications.
Managing change is tough. Weaving in the three keys of understanding, inclusion and awareness to any project that you take on will help lead you to success. Every time.