Change is essential in both the business world and life. However, defining your vision for change and determining how to present it to your workforce can be equally important for that transition to be effective. When you know why a change is happening and believe in its power to steer your organization into the future, you must relay that message to everyone else.
To enact effective changes, you need to create a picture for your employees of what they should expect and how it will improve daily life. Doing so will enable them to be receptive to training and implementation efforts. In addition, it will help motivate and empower them to gain the full advantage of the change, thereby leading to more successful adoption of and appreciation for the same.
Why Is Change Important?
Change can manifest significant opportunities for your organization and those working within it. In a general sense, change maintains your company’s relevancy, providing you with a competitive edge over others in your industry.
Never implementing changes of any kind can lead to stagnancy and the mundane, rendering you immaterial and forgotten. Therefore, change is vital to keep your organization thriving long term. In addition, change can help retain your workforce by protecting your employees’ jobs and any accompanying job growth, which is consequential to your company’s continuing operation and success.
With the innovation, skill-building, staff morale, and promise of new and better business promulgated by change, your organization’s growth should inevitably lead to the development of your employees. In time, doors will open for all involved, and new prospects will come to light.
Defining Your “Change Vision”
Establishing why change is necessary is critical for ideal outcomes. Once you’ve created a clear change vision as an organization, it’s easier to relay that vision to others, encourage the change, inspire others to make changes, and shift mindsets to welcome and adopt change. People who agree with change can better support and commit to it to ease transitions and implement the change more effectively.
A change vision is more than just a vision statement. The idea is to bring together those enacting the change and those directly affected by the change, so everyone is moving toward a common goal. It should be clear, focused, and uncomplicated. Even for complex changes, a change vision must be easy to explain, communicate, and understand.
A change vision provides:
- A clear goal and strategy for the specific change initiative
- Simplistic but not generic language
- Action steps to implement the change effectively
- Motivation to get people to act (i.e., positive risk and genuine influence)
- General direction to streamline the process
- Brevity and visuals to express a concise yet compelling message
- A coordinated effort of all impacted by or involved in the change
Simply put, your change vision should convey the results you’re trying to achieve and break down the steps to arrive at the desired outcome.
Most importantly, as previously mentioned, a change vision must get to the heart of the “why.” Why are you making a change? How are the people in your organization impacted, and why is this impact necessary and beneficial? Give the people in your organization a positive emotional connection to the change.
Finally, your change vision needs to remain somewhat fluid so that it can be adjusted when roadblocks arise or conditions shift.
Assessing Your Company’s Climate for Change
“Slowness to change usually means fear of the new.” -Phillip Crosby
Before presenting your vision or implementing any change, it’s essential to assess your company’s change climate. This information will be critical to determine how best to motivate your team. Your team’s comfort level with change can help direct your change vision and the way you carry out the change.
According to Prosci, 98% of change-related critical success factors depend on the people within your organization and their willingness to change. Organizational change is most effective when your employees are involved, offering insight or input into the process.
However, it’s not just the employees that need to be comfortable with change. In another survey by Prosci, 76% of 1,150 CEOs acknowledged that their ability to adopt change could be critical to future competitive advantage. Likewise, one study in the same article found that nine out of 10 executives believed organizational agility was imperative for continuing relevance, success, and long-term importance.
Knowing how closely one’s accomplishments and change aptitude are linked, you would think embracing change would be easy. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Humans are creatures of habit. Change, whether good or bad, disrupts our routines. This disturbance stirs a sense of insecurity connected to our innate fears of the unknown.
In addition to our reluctance to accept change, a lack of trust in those leading us or negativity within our environment can further hinder our ability to grow and adapt.
Change requires commitment from all those involved. So, it’s important to solidify trust and commitment before making sweeping changes. Even small changes can jolt your employees when the climate isn’t right.
Once you know where everyone stands, you can help establish or affirm trust and model a climate for change within your organization. Typically, vision is a person’s dominant sense, with 89% of what you learn coming from what you see. Conversely, only 10% of your information is derived from what you hear, and just one percent can be attributed to your remaining senses, like smell and touch. Therefore, it’s imperative to visually demonstrate the behaviors you want your team members to embody.
According to best-selling author, speaker, and business leadership expert John C. Maxwell, making personal changes before asking others to do the same is one of the most effective ways to create a climate for change. In addition, making an effort to empathize with the people in your organization, understanding your company’s history, seeking input and advice from other major influencers in your business, and sharing ownership of the change with others are more ways to shift your change culture and encourage others to change.
Building a Sustainable Training Program to Adopt Change
The world is moving forward at such a fast rate that change has become inevitable and nearly constant. Unfortunately, as soon as a change is implemented and everyone gets comfortable with the new way of doing things, another development creeps in and throws a wrench in the system. For example, a white paper published by the World Economic Forum in 2019 predicted that by last year (2022), the core skills of most roles will have changed by 42%.
Even as these roles shift, though, hiring more personnel is impractical. This means that skill training and advancement in the workplace must be fluid, impactful, and consistent to keep up with our rapidly transforming environment.
Rather than render most of your employees obsolete within a matter of a few years, building sustainable training programs can be your ticket to corporate loyalty. Not only will such courses provide your team with the technical knowledge to continue in their evolving roles, but they can also create an atmosphere more conducive to change.
According to a publication by the CEO of Teradici, David Smith, featured in Forbes, leaders within organizations should view people as “renewable resources” instead of “commodities.” In practice, this ideal means businesses are better off focusing on “developing and upgrading [employees’] skills instead of replacing them.” Smith says this way of thinking “will become even more important as automation continues to expand and change the way enterprises work.”
Not only does the growing digital market demand it, but people do, too. In other words, training should be important to employers because it’s important to employees.
Udemy conducted a survey about the growing skills gap existing even before COVID-19. The survey revealed that employees value training to evolve alongside the workplace, with 51% saying they would quit their job if it didn’t provide necessary training. That percentage rose to 66% among younger generations aged 18-37. This telling statistic means training needs to be a priority if you have several people reaching the age of retirement and you want to attract the younger population to carry on the torch.
Relevant training is key. Employees need training to help them perform their job optimally, leading to eventual advancement opportunities. When training programs consider the employees’ needs, employees are encouraged to own their learning and are more likely to participate in and adopt the training.
Upskilling requires time and commitment from both the employer and the employees. Creating a culture of learning and development can lead to sustainable training programs that promote a more productive and effective workforce.
How Oxford Can Help Promote an Environment for Change
Oxford has the resources to help your business implement sustainable training programs. Our tried-and-true method of organizational change management (OCM) centers on first creating a climate for change.
We can bring your workplace and staff up to speed with changes that impact your employees and the company’s future. In addition, we can help ensure that change is most beneficial to all. Finally, we can teach you ways to help your employees continue learning and growing within your business to remain relevant and forward-facing.
It’s essential to partner with someone who cares about your business as much as you do. Oxford strives to understand your needs and get the outcomes you need for corporate longevity and lasting success.