The La Fosse Manchester office was delighted to host the second in a series of events for the change and transformation community in the NW of England. We brought together directors and heads of business change and transformation, who discussed how to overcome the sense of drudgery that can come when implementing change. They shared best practices in the form of two case studies and an extended Q&A. The event was attended by senior change executives from a variety of sectors such as: Law & Legal, Housing, Financial Services, IT, HR, and Telecoms to name a few.

Here are their 5 key points to delivering a successful change programme.

1. Adjust the perception of change

Businesses often fail to embrace the importance of change within their organisations; it is rarely seen as a priority in the C-suite. Why would it be? Change, be it short-term or ongoing, isn’t on the agenda for most CEOs or MDs.

However, given the empowered workforce and changing technology in the modern marketplace, organisations and CEOs should appreciate that change is an essential part of their businesses. They need to encourage workers to drive change within their teams on a consistent and daily basis, an action that will lead to improved sales, increase in share price, profitability of the business, staff retention, etc.

2. Commitment from all levels of the organisation

To effectively implement change, the programme needs to be supported from the top down. Businesses need to embrace and invest in change. A way in which to do this is to create a change team at a senior level. Executives are culture drivers; unless change is a priority for executives, support will be harder to garner across the business. Executives need to acknowledge and appreciate this skill set and understand that change isn’t a phase. Change is ongoing and dynamic, it’s also vital to the development and maturity of organisations. Identifying quick wins and ROI will positively influence support.

As well as ensuring that executives are on board, establish “Change Champions” within the various work streams of a business. These “Change Champions” should meet regularly to discuss the challenges they are facing within their sub-set team, and report this back to an overall Change Leader.

3. Don’t complicate the basics

Change affects people, processes, and revenue, as well as cost-reduction. The most competitive organisations will be those that are change-adapters and driving change-frontiers. However, organisations need to ensure that where they are investing their resources is driving the highest profitability and project success. The ROI needs to be kept in mind when marshalling the right level of resources to affect change; companies will have to say “no” to some good ideas.

Whilst living in an exciting time, considering the opportunities presented by Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, don’t overlook the basics. Adopting a Lean Six Sigma approach can help achieve some immediate ROI results from perhaps an increase in staff efficiency or a restructuring of an OD perspective. Equally instilling some basic Prosci change management principles will help ensure everyone from board-level to front-line services at least have a common understanding of what the business is aiming to achieve.

4. Create a transparent culture within the organisation

This is yet another thing that should come from the top down. Personalities at the top of organisations can establish a culture of change. Goals should be created as a collective, with each team collaborating to encourage change. While empowering people to be change-drivers within their teams can be difficult, accountability is important to achieve results. Create a transparent environment for employees, in which they feel comfortable enough to suggest new ideas.

The necessity of engaging all staff in the business, not just FTEs, should not be overlooked. Both Consultants and Interims, whilst they may have different deliverables, they need to be onboard and where possible support the journey of change the business is undertaking. One vision, one brand.

5. Engage your public early

Engagement in the process needs to be early, a lot earlier than you might think. Communicating why these change programmes are important is crucial to getting people on board; timing is crucial. You need to be prepared for any conversations or questions that might arise—being ill-prepared or delivering the wrong message will lose your credibility for these programs.

Find the right balance between communication and having all your facts in order early, with a bare minimum “idealistic” view of where you aspire to be as a business.