12 Ways to Make Navigating Change Easier
By: Michael Shattuck
Being on the forefront of change is both exciting and scary. New ideas are rolling, inspiring visions are stirring, and you can’t wait for the positive impacts it will have on your work. Easy, right? Not quite.
When it comes to making changes in an organization, it often takes some extra effort to navigate everything. There are ideas to align, teams to consider, and unforeseen roadblocks to discover. But with the right approach, you’ll be able to embrace it and start moving forward.
Before you kick off your next change-inducing transformation, see which of these 12 ways — we recommend starting with two to three — can help make it easier to navigate change.
1. Before making decisions, understand the organization-wide impact.
In every organization, even minor changes could impact many people. Look at the goals of the project, the tools currently in place, and the departments directly involved to uncover areas that might have been overlooked initially.
2. Be flexible and willing to pivot from the original plan.
You’ll probably encounter unexpected roadblocks along the way. It’s normal. Look back at your original goals and impact, then work with your team to determine where to move next.
3. Educate, communicate, and support your teams every step of the way.
An important — and often overlooked — part of the process is communication and support. Showing people how the change impacts them will help them feel like they’re part of the change instead of just being pulled along for the ride.
4. Create a channel and structure for feedback and two-way communication.
Provide a way for people to give feedback and ask questions through a monitored channel. If you find yourself fielding the same questions repeatedly, create an FAQ doc or host an internal webinar to address common topics and take additional questions in real time.
5. Appoint a dedicated person and team to own and manage the initiative.
You’ve heard the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen?” The same applies to change management. Dedicating one person or team to own the project will make it easier to achieve your goals and provide a single point of contact for questions.
6. Recognize that this is not a “one-and-done” approach, but an ongoing effort.
Throughout your project, plan for regular maintenance and future upgrades. Knowing that you can’t just “set it and forget it” will make the inevitable evolution of your system much more manageable.
7. Listen to feedback, adjust, and repeat.
Gathering feedback is one thing, adjusting as a result is another. You’ll need to walk a fine line between taking every suggestion and saying no to everything, but referring to the original goals will help keep you on track.
*Beware of scope creep with feedback. Instead of dismissing or accepting ideas (especially good ones), put them to the side until you finish the original project. Then go back to them later and see how they can be incorporated in the future (see #6).
8. Make it fun and collaborative.
Work is work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Find ways to incorporate fun and collaboration into your project. This helps keep teams engaged and excited about the project long after the thrill of starting has worn off.
9. Identify influencers and advocates to help garner support along the way.
Identify people outside of the project who are heavily invested without being directly involved. These are your influencers and advocates. Having external champions who are devoted to your cause provides positive visibility to the project.
10. Connect value to individuals in the language, voice, and context they understand.
Some projects can get quite technical, especially with software. When delivering training, if possible, try developing new terms that align with your audience and make sure all terms are completely understood as you go along.
11. Learn what works and doesn’t work, so you can improve moving forward.
Documenting your project strategy at the start and adjusting for major pivots will ensure you have a north star to refer to if you feel lost. And remember: each project is an opportunity for growth. Take note of the things that work for you and the things that don’t. Incorporating them into your next project will allow you to optimize the process.
12. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone that’s been through it before.
Having someone on your committee who’s navigated change before will help secure positive results. If there’s someone internally to fill this role, great! If not, don’t be afraid to look outside your organization for an agency or company who actively manages change. They’re trained in change management processes to ensure you achieve your goals.
Don’t let change overwhelm you. Following these tips for the best path forward will give you the confidence you need to get started and the knowledge to succeed. You’ve got this!
Established in 1948, Widen builds high-performing software that has enabled 500,000+ marketers, content creators, and technologists at over 600 global brands to create impactful, measurable, and consistent brand experiences. Headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, USA and with a European office in London, UK, Widen has the highest customer loyalty in the digital asset management (DAM) industry.
Learn more at www.widen.com.