Change is inevitable for organisations wanting to grow and succeed in the business world. But change can often invoke a sense of fear amongst leaders for many reasons; the inherent risk involved in any change, the potential for failure, or an adverse effect on a company’s brand or reputation.
Experts believe that humans experience stress when faced with change as our brains struggle to process and adapt quickly enough to the new environment or situation. Our automatic self-preservation mechanism kicks in, and we find ways – whether consciously or not, to avoid any deviation from our usual routine.
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. – H. P. Lovecraft
How can your organisation embrace, rather than fear change?
Preparing for change and embedding a culture for change within the business is essential to avoid becoming a victim of change brought on by external factors, such as the economy, government policies, competition etc. If anticipated, or planned for as much as possible – regardless of what the actual event is – change can become a more positive occurrence within your organisation.
Planning for change within your organisation might mean assessing what’s working and not working today, at all levels of your business; from inventory tracking to customer service scores, and identifying where change could have a positive impact.
Inviting input from your employees is also a productive way to involve them in the change process. If they can see the benefits to their daily routine, they will be much more engaged with the whole process and become your internal advocates for change.
Sometimes, change isn’t really needed, or not to the extent that you might think. As this successful CEO suggests, ask yourself these 3 questions before assuming that enterprise technology will automatically be the key to success.
Changes or upgrades to company systems need to be stress-free
Anyone who has undergone a major systems change, integration or upgrade project, as an employee of a company will probably agree that it was one of the most stressful things they experienced at work.
Common internal objections to adopting new systems we hear at Blue Ocean Systems include;
- Will I lose my job to an automated system?
- How will I learn the new system quickly enough?
- Will my knowledge and experience become less important to my boss?
- Will I still be able to meet my targets using the new tool?
Proactive companies will ensure that change management forms an integral role in any upgrade or transition of business information systems. More specifically, this needs to include:
1. Excellent two-way communication with the service provider / vendor
Having an open channel for communication with your service provider can be the single success (or failure) point for many systems projects. From the outset, the provider needs to inform you of all the project milestones along the way that might affect your teams and their ability to perform their role.
Any changes, new developments or workarounds, need your full support and input before they can be accepted and your vendor should be open and honest about unexpected problems they encounter along the way (they will always crop up but it’s how they are dealt with that is the most important thing).
The same works the other way too, and you need to be in touch with the service provider to give them feedback on how the project milestones are being met and accepted as well as any changes in expectations or requirements from your side.
The best projects are those where the service provider and the client build rapport based on mutually honest and open communication about what is expected of the other party.
2. Methodology and planning for the changes within your company
Just telling your employees that they will soon be using a new system, or following a new process, will not bring about the positive change you’re looking for.
Invite their input to how processes and systems can be improved and take on board their feedback. Involving them at each stage is imperative, as it is these stakeholders who will ultimately be using the system and who can drive its success.
3. Simple and effective system and user interface design
The key to end user adoption of a new or enhanced system is a clean, simple and effective user interface. Don’t include unnecessary ‘frills’ if they don’t add any value to the system users. Instead, work with them to identify ways of improving the user experience, as well as aligning the system with your overall business goals.
This is also something a trustworthy service provider should help you with – if they try to convince you that you need expensive, customised tools or fancy gadgets, this might be a sign that they aren’t the right vendor for you.
Avoiding change is not a sustainable business plan; embracing it, and welcoming it into your organisation is the way for many of the world’s most innovative and successful companies. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you still find it daunting – we are only human after all.
A final point – what if we switched the word ‘change’ for ‘improvement’ – would that make it feel less scary? Ultimately people don’t want change, but they will always embrace real improvements.
Contact the Blue Ocean Systems team to discover why they are the go-to service provider for SMEs in Singapore looking to enhance their business processes.
Note: This story has also been adapted for publication in Steemit.