As markets continue to globalize and as new technologies continue to bring about growth, it’s no surprise that rapid and profound change is a constant in today’s business environment.
For this reason, companies in every sector are forced to make a decision: either adapt or face stagnation. An inclination towards the former is what defines disruptive companies — organizations that pride themselves on being able to adapt and thrive in ever-changing, even volatile, situations.
Change is always on the menu, and it can often be a tall order. But, what sets disruptive companies apart is that they embrace challenges without resisting or reverting back to their comfort zone. On the contrary, they see it as an opportunity for growth.
The keys to change management
Once we start to reenvision failures as areas to improve and see crises as opportunities to bring positive change, then we can start to shift our focus towards how we want to put the main tenets of change management (listed below) into practice. But first and foremost, having a flexible mindset is the most important step.
1. Acknowledge the change
Often times, external changes come as a surprise, and employees may or may not be properly equipped to react appropriately. You have to make sure they’re ready and able to accept the change.
As a general rule, most people are averse to the unknown. They want to stick with what works and what’s comfortable. That’s why is important for companies to create a corporate environment that encourages employees to embrace change, not shy away from it.
To smooth the process over, it’s a good idea to set out internal strategies when it comes to workforce training — as well as create specialized learning pathways — so that all teams have the necessary knowledge and tools to tackle any new challenges. If you can manage to turn fear of the unknown into a driver of innovation, the whole process will be much easier.
2. Consider the impact of the change
Weighing the consequences of any decision takes time, and time is one of the most valuable parts of change management. Leaders of disruptive companies are cognizant of the stakes of high-pressure decisions and are aware that, oftentimes, they need to be made at the drop of a hat. In situations like this, you must think quickly but also pay attention to the details that will likely end up defining the outcome.
When making decisions, you must take into account a wide range of possibilities, and be careful not to take anything for granted. Because this can sometimes be difficult, your team should be qualified to make informed decisions, even under duress. Disruptive companies often try to get ahead of potentially problematic situations by offering their workforce specialized and specific training related to time management and conflict resolution.
3. Lead strategically
A leader must be present in some way (either directly or indirectly) in all projects. They must be able to anticipate problems and propose solutions in a timely manner.
This means that the role of a leader in a disruptive company goes beyond what’s typically expected (managing, planning, etc.) and extends into motivation and strategy. Leaders must consider how well each team member will adapt to certain situations and create support systems that ensure their success. This is especially true in uncertain times. Teamwork and feedback during this process are key to ensuring there is a method to the madness.
4. Communicate with your teams
Transparency is the foundation of any company process, new or old. Everyone involved in the company must be aware that the change is happening, what the plan of attack is, and what the final changes will look like. If communication goes by the wayside, employees will be left in the dark and unsure how to proceed.
You can do a trial run in one particular department to see how it goes, but you may also want to open the trial up to other teams to get as many people involved as possible. Regardless of whether the trial run is a success or a complete failure, it can also be seen as an opportunity to get valuable feedback in anticipation of the real thing.
5. Encourage participation and get feedback
When change occurs, uncertainty from all parties involved will follow. Have your teams share their expectations, ideas, and experiences, with each other and with the company.
Also, just like with any other corporate strategy, you should be able to lean on it to measure results objectively and identify where you can improve, which will help you both now and in the future.
Due to the uncertainty that is bound to crop up, any company that’s going through a large change needs to have all its bases covered: strategy, internal processes, workforce training, relevant technologies, creativity, and team management. Is your company ready for the challenge?