By Michelle Starnes
In the dynamic landscape of business, change isn’t just inevitable; it’s the heartbeat of evolution. Recent years have especially emphasized this, compelling business leaders to reimagine their strategies, prioritize the well-being of their teams, and fortify their visions—even if that means diverging from conventional methods. The global pandemic accelerated this shift, pushing us to introspect and reassess our operational strategies and values.
At Verdin, the shifts have been transformative. From our pre-2020 operations, one notable evolution was our transition to a remote work model—a consideration that wasn’t on our radar before the pandemic. Yet, our brief venture into remote work illuminated its myriad benefits: proximity to our out-of-county clients through localized employees, enhanced flexibility, heightened productivity, and the strategic repurposing of our budget to fuel other innovative business investments. Admittedly, the journey wasn’t without its hiccups; it entailed a blend of experimentation and incessant evaluation. But the outcome? A thriving team and happy clients. So how did we navigate all of this change to get to where we are today?
It’s crucial to recognize that change management is as much an opportunity as it is a challenge. Embracing this metamorphosis is vital for businesses to remain nimble, innovative and competitive. However, effecting change within an organization requires a well-thought-out strategy, clear communication and a focus on employee engagement. Let’s unpack the intricacies of adept change management: countering resistance, fostering a positive culture and ensuring smooth transitions.
- Communicate a Compelling Vision
One of the first steps in successful change management is to articulate a compelling vision that inspires and motivates employees. This vision should clearly outline the reasons for the change, the benefits it will bring and the positive impact on individuals and the organization as a whole. A well-communicated vision creates a sense of purpose and direction, rallying employees behind the transformation.
- Involve Employees in the Process
Involving employees in the change process is crucial for buy-in and commitment. It is important to create cross-functional teams to gather input from employees at all levels. As we were experiencing changes during the pandemic and determining our future direction, we sent out multiple short surveys to gather feedback on everything from how the transition has been for them and checking that they have everything they need to be productive, to how they are feeling about their connection to their coworkers and what flexibility we can offer to support them. We then discussed decisions with the group and addressed all feedback and questions. When employees feel heard and valued, they are more likely to embrace the changes and actively participate in making the transformation a success.
- Address Resistance with Empathy and Understanding
Resistance to change is natural, and addressing it with empathy and understanding is vital. Instead of dismissing resistance, it’s important to listen to employees’ concerns and fears and provide transparent and honest answers. We have regularly scheduled supervisor/employee touch bases in addition to gathering survey responses, so we were able to invite employees to share concerns openly. We then evaluated concerns as needed and addressed them on an individual basis to ensure that employees felt heard and maintained buy-in to the decisions we were making. Engaging in open dialogue and offering support can help ease anxieties and foster a more positive outlook toward the changes.
- Fostering a Positive Culture
A positive organizational culture can significantly impact how change is received and implemented. At Verdin, we prioritize creating a culture that promotes openness, collaboration and innovation. Each employee knows our core values by heart and agrees to show up in a way that honors the behavioral norms we have assigned to each value. We have a committee of employee culture ambassadors who engages the team in different ways to continue to evolve and grow our culture. When employees feel supported and empowered as a part of the culture, they are more likely to embrace change and actively contribute to the success of the transformation.
- Offer Training and Support
During periods of change, employees may need new skills or tools to adapt to the evolving environment. As regulations around Covid-19 evolved and changed quickly, it was important to have clear policies and trainings on updates. Moving to a remote organization resulted in the need to create clear policies to help guide the team in understanding expectations and how to operate. We also needed to invest in new systems and equipment to ensure everyone had what they needed to do their jobs successfully.
Providing comprehensive training and ongoing support is essential to equip employees with the necessary resources to navigate the changes successfully. Training not only enhances employee capabilities but also boosts their confidence in the new processes and systems.
- Celebrate Milestones and Progress
Acknowledging and celebrating milestones and progress is an effective way to reinforce positive behavior and keep employees motivated throughout the change process. Recognizing individual and team efforts creates a sense of achievement and strengthens the belief that the transformation is on the right track. We have established ongoing touch points within our team to ensure we didn’t miss opportunities to bring the team together and celebrate the successes we have had and where we are today.
- Lead by Example
Leading by example is essential in inspiring others to embrace change. Demonstrating a willingness to adapt, being open to feedback, and displaying a positive attitude can influence the entire organization. Leaders who actively participate in the change process foster trust and encourage others to do the same. This seems like a simple concept, but it can be challenging to embody when leaders forget the importance of being intentional in this area. When you walk the talk, your team will follow.
- Measure and Adjust
Throughout the change management process, it’s vital to measure the impact of the changes and regularly assess progress. When change is so constant, what was working a few months ago may not be working now. We have set timelines where we gather data and feedback, allowing us to identify any roadblocks or challenges and make necessary adjustments.
The idea of constant change can be overwhelming, but it is the new norm. As leaders, we must embrace change as an opportunity for growth, not only for the organization but also for each individual within it. With a strategic and people-centric approach, change becomes a driving force for continuous improvement and long-term success.