Managing Change in a Small Organisation
Until I set up an HR Professional CIPD Accreditation company, my experience of managing change in a small organisation was limited. I had been in involved with change within large public sector organisations. In these organisations, it often felt like a massive task to work through. Planning and implementing best practice and nurturing the right kind of response and flexibility to bring about transformation.
Now, leading a small organisation, I can see how much better they are to react and adapt to the need for change. I realised as the head of the organisation, I needed to play to my own strengths and those of my team. In those circumstances, managing change in a small organisation can happen quickly and with success.
There are a number of practices I’ve found that really helps me when managing change in a small organisation.
1. Let everyone have the chance to input
At the start of the change process, for me, it works really well to open up a discussion with the team about how we can best make the change. Some may have little to say on the issue whilst others jump at the opportunity to share their innovation. Either way, the size of the organisation brings an advantage here. It doesn’t mean that I am handing over authority and decision-making. The team know that these still rest with me at the end of the day. But it does mean that everyone feels they have had the chance to contribute and to own the change. As a result, they become more committed to it.
2. Cultivate ‘can do’ behaviours
Although there are times when I have to ask not to be interrupted, I do spend a lot of time interacting with the team. Doing so shows them that I listen and that I am approachable and trustworthy. I also encourage the team to communicate and interact with each other. For an effective change, they need to be good colleagues, team players and to ‘muck in.’
In return, I’ve built a team and an organisation with the flexibility and a ‘can do’ attitude. So when we need to bring about change, the team feel that they ‘can do’ what is being asked of them. Their outlook is optimistic.
As with any team, there can be those who are more positive in their outlook than others. I challenge those with a ‘half empty’ view on life to use this tendency as a strength. To highlight the things that might not work or might go wrong within the change process. Then to balance this with thinking about and offering the solutions.
3. Keep it simple
Once the change is scoped out and planned, the implementation stage needs to be as simple and quick as possible. My aim here is always to minimise uncertainty within the team. This enables people in the team to stay engaged and quickly see and feel the tangible differences.
To do this, I look for the simplest route to implementation with the least amount of disruption. There are clear measures of progress and success. I also look for quick wins so that people see the outcome of their efforts at an early stage. This way, the change is much easier to coordinate and drive forward. There is less time there is for concerns to linger and for people to hang onto previous ways of doing things.
4. Make it sustainable
Once the change is implemented it is tempting to sit back, breathe a sigh of relief and move on to the next project. It’s so important though to keep checking back and keep an eye on the change for some time after implementation. In this way, you can make sure it doesn’t unwind. You can be confident the outcomes continue to work and stay in place.
With my team, I do this by making sure that the measures we set for each change initiative are reasonably long term and continue to be reported on. Again, we keep this simple by using team meeting agendas and other communication channels that already exist until we are certain that the change is fully embedded. Once again it becomes equally important here to open up discussion and engage in informal communication. These enable me to check out whether things are working as they should be.
The points I’ve made outline just a few of the things that help me to implement change successfully in a small organisation and the lessons I would take with me into a larger organisation to tackle the barriers I needed to overcome in order to move change forward.