In our Part 1 of this series, we focused on a few of the core elements of change management. We’re going to switch things up in Part 2 and get into some character attributes are important when leading change in the workplace. Recent scientific studies suggest that leadership is 30% genetic and 70% learned. Many people think that you need to be born a leader, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are leadership qualities that can be taught, with a bit of dedication and patience. If you want to be a successful change agent, here are several attributes you can work towards developing:
Your approach to change must be flexible, especially when it comes to workplace digital transformations like Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) system implementations. To be a good leader in change management, embrace the unknown, and then adjust when things don’t go as expected. Being open-minded and responsive to the challenges encountered will let you think more critically and rationally when difficult situations arise.
Unequivocally one of the top attributes to be an effective leader in change management is communication. In an ERP software project, you must identify all stakeholders and their communication avenues, then communicate with them so that they understand why the change is occurring and what the impact will be on them and the organization. Knowing your audience will allow you to communicate clearly, transparently, and concisely to them. Communication also includes non-verbal cues like body language, as well as listening carefully so that you can be attentive to their needs. When you communicate effectively it ensures that all stakeholders (including staff) involved understand first what is changing and second, how it impacts them. Regular communication during a technology change keeps everyone working collaboratively towards the same goals.
- Accountability and Responsibility
Accountability and responsibility go together like maple syrup and Canada. When you hold yourself accountable to change in the workplace you instinctively look for continuous improvements in business processes or more innovative ways of working. To make an idea become reality, you must be responsible for leading it successfully to fruition so that the benefits of the technology change are realized by the organization.
Creating a trusting and trustworthy workplace environment is critical to employees feeling supported. One way to build trust in the workplace is providing as much information and data (preferably visually) as possible so people don’t feel involuntarily ignorant about the change. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, don’t sugarcoat anything. Be open and honest throughout the ERP software implementation so that trust is never jeopardized.
Change is hard to do so the ability to influence people is a powerful characteristic to possess. Being influential is a highly sought-after attribute for a change management agent leading a digital transformation. You want your employees to question the old assumptions and any existing inefficient or manual processes. Most people don’t like change, so it requires a lot of persuasion to even get them to consider the change. Walk the walk by being genuinely enthusiastic of the change and the benefits it brings. This helps build a team mentality and will get others excited about the change as well. It’s important to be authentic with your excitement. Most people are good at reading others and can tell when you’re being phoney.
Picking the Right People
It’s important to note that almost everyone is a candidate to be a leader of change, but it takes considerable thought and energy to be an effective one. Picking the right people to be change agents is a critical step in any change initiative and should be well-thought out. These people should possess at least some, if not all, of the attributes we mentioned above. There are also leadership training programs available that can help people improve their leadership skills and how to employ them effectively. With leadership training investments estimated at $357.7 billion worldwide in 2020, with $165.3 billion from North America, there is no shortage of teachings.
Successful change agents should have in-depth knowledge of your business’s internal processes and how they relate to the new technology being implemented. If possible, get your change agents involved in the software design sessions as early as possible, to maximize their knowledge of the system. Post-implementation, you can look to these same people for continuous improvement ideas that increase competitiveness and organizational growth.
Change is the new constant. The typical organization today has undertaken five major firmwide changes in the past three years — and nearly 75% expect to multiply the types of major change initiatives they will undertake in the next three years. Yet half of change initiatives fail, and only 34% are a clear success. At Forbes Andersen Technology Inc. we know in the importance of change management, and we believe in helping clients find effective change agents. We help by carefully surveying our clients’ current situation and then offering a recommendation that will help them reach their goals.