The remote work era may have taken the world by storm in the past few years, but it’s here to stay. To weather the storm, you need to embrace the change it brings.
Part of growing a resilient, stable company is understanding how to be adaptable in changing times while retaining core values and continuing to thrive. In the face of economic uncertainty in 2023, now’s the perfect time to consider your change management strategy and what you could do to improve it.
What is Change Management?
Before we dive into the remote work landscape and how you can prepare for challenging, uncertain times, let’s start with a brief definition of change management:
Change management is the approach you take to organizational change and how it affects your workforce.
If you want your company to bend rather than break when the winds of change are swirling at your door, you need to consider the way you deal with change and transition as an organization.
To get a clear idea of what change management means in practice, let’s use the example of succession planning.
If your CEO makes the unexpected decision to step down after 20+ years at the helm, do you have a replacement lined up?
The answer is most likely yes, but what about the role that would then be vacated if you hire internally?
Succession planning is like lining up the dominos so you can continue indefinitely rather than facing abrupt halts along the way as you scramble to find replacements. This is just one example of how you can implement an effective change management strategy in your company.
Why Focus on Change Management Strategy?
Change is inevitable, and as such, a failure to prepare can cause a company to be swept out to sea as others float on by.
Take the COVID-19 pandemic as an example; remote work was mandatory for most companies, and as a result, many weren’t able to keep up. Without systems in place to support streamlined digital communication and collaboration, many companies struggled with remote team management and saw a drastic dip in productivity levels and operational efficiency.
The companies that came out on the other side stronger than ever are most likely those that had a robust change management strategy in place. They had an effective way of transitioning to remote work and supporting their workforce during a challenging time.
Nobody could have foreseen this period of rapid change, but going forward, you can better protect against the unpredictable by focusing on change management.
Worldwide pandemics are far from the most common forms of change to prepare for, as you also have to consider other unexpected events such as the impact of layoffs, new technologies such as AI, and how you respond to various crises such as system outages or data breaches.
How to Create and Implement a Clear Change Management Strategy
A clear change management strategy is a blueprint for how you’ll bounce back from various setbacks. It’s a safety net yes, but first and foremost, it’s a long-term strategy that will brace you both for known and unknown threats and change.
With an effective change management strategy, you will:
- Save time and energy
- Build company-wide resilience for thriving in uncertain times
- Create clear roles for everyone in the workforce during transitions
Once you build the foundations of an effective change management strategy, you can apply it to a range of situations and circumstances and figure out the specific tactics to employ.
So what are the core pillars of a clear five-stage change management strategy?
1. Integrate Company Culture
One of the first factors to bear in mind when developing a change management strategy is how you’ll implement your company culture and values to safeguard them moving forwards.
Invite feedback from leadership and frontline employees alike to get an idea of how you can enact change without sacrificing clarity and strategic cohesion. Identify what’s working well right now and what is important for future success so you can hold onto it during a transitionary period.
2. Filter Information Down
When initiating a change management strategy, often the best approach is to first engage C-level executives and top leadership and then have the key information cascade down through the ranks via the chain of command.
Bear in mind this assumes you have a hierarchical organizational structure, so if your business operates with more equality regarding roles and leadership, you might want to assemble the whole organization or create a memo that goes out to all employees.
3. Consider Roles, Routines, and Reactions
One of the most important aspects of any change management strategy is taking in as much information as possible to take the best course of action.
Current and new roles for individual employees
It’s imperative with any change management strategy that you consider how employee roles will be affected, since you’ll have to lean on every employee to successfully navigate the period of transition.
Behaviors that will accelerate the transition and minimize disruption
Address processes and actions that will need to stay the same or change as you go through the transition.
For example, if old behaviors aren’t aligned with new objectives, it’s important to stamp them out otherwise, they could jeopardize future success.
How your employees will be impacted
Employees are the cornerstone of effective change management, so it’s wise to imagine how they’ll be affected by the change and consult them on how you can make the transition as smooth as possible.
It’s easy to overlook the individual impact changes will have on the employee level when you’re looking at problems from a bird’s eye view, so by involving employees, you can get a more nuanced take.
4. Keep Communication Clear and Concise
Time is of the essence for implementing a change management strategy, as is clarity.
With that in mind, consider the following as you implement your strategy:
- Regular check-ins with department heads
- Inter-departmental meetings
- Weekly or monthly reviews
You should also think about your current communication systems and whether they’ll hold up during the transition. It might be worth considering workforce analytics tools and project management platforms to streamline communication and data access as you transition.
5. Evaluate and Enhance
Finally, take stock of your plan and identify opportunities for improvement.
Using internet activity monitoring software, you can track workday productivity and project progress throughout the process of change. With a stockpile of employee data, you can go about measuring performance of remote workers, which can help you make data-driven decisions to maintain and even boost productivity levels as you go.
You can also keep track of work hours and host regular check-ins with leadership to make sure everything is running smoothly from top to bottom.
Monitoring remote workers is essential for staying resilient during periods of change or transition. Insightful isn’t computer spying software that invades employee privacy, but a solution to monitor computers remotely and monitor application usage to build a clear picture of workforce productivity
You have the option to run the software in ‘stealth’ mode discreetly, or you can be transparent with your workforce which can have the positive byproduct of boosting accountability.
You can use computer monitoring systems, therefore, to see the before and after regarding employee performance levels as you go through company-wide change.