This blog is the fifth and final in a five-part series focusing on opportunity generated by volatility in today’s mobility profession. Here we review the opportunity and process of embracing change.
As pointed out at the start of this series on volatility and its attendant opportunities (Managing Volatility In your Global Mobility Program), volatility is commonly defined as “characterized by or subject to rapid or unexpected change.” Given all that is occurring in our world pandemically, socially, politically, culturally, and economically, it is fair to conclude that we are living in volatile times.
Recognizing that we are likely to remain in a volatile employment environment for the foreseeable future, opportunities to embrace change – in policies, programs, and providers – present themselves. Rather than focus on the myriad changes that could occur, we’ll focus here on how to embrace change and foster change management within your organization.
As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “life is flux,” meaning change is the only constant. If this is the case, then why do we seem to resist change and what can we do to embrace it as well as help others do so?
Our resistance to change is often because we are simply creatures of habit. While we know that change can bring opportunities, it also causes fear. People fear their jobs will be interfered with, their job security threatened, or their value as an employee diminished. They fear failure.
Trust can also be an issue in the corporate world, often due to perceived hidden agendas and lack of transparency among those initiating change. But for most organizations, change is not only prevalent, but required for innovation, growth, and cost reduction. The status quo is simply not an option.
So how does one initiate change within their organization? It often depends on the culture of the organization, but there are some basic steps that can be effective anywhere:
- Prepare the organization for change by identifying key stakeholders
- Identify the scope of change (e.g., incremental over time with gradual policy changes or transformational with a relocation provider change)
- Identify number of people and all departments impacted
- Identify types of change (e.g., process, policy, vendor, software)
- Implement the plan
PREPARING FOR CHANGE
Understanding leadership styles of individual stakeholders as well as their positions (i.e., do they advocate change or oppose it?) are keys to success. Once these are identified, a plan can be enacted aligning the features of the changes with those who will need to change. This plan should consider communication, team composition, team structure, and individual motivations to change or resist (e.g., individual, department, and corporate-wide benefits).
Identifying and involving all stakeholders is critical. More senior leaders can provide influence and vision while others may provide subject matter expertise or technical skills. This approach helps to identify and address requirements and potential challenges early on.
SCOPE OF CHANGE
Will the change affect the entire company or one department? Will it be incremental over months or even years, or will it be transformational as in a vendor/provider change that could have enterprise-wide impact?
IDENTIFY THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE AND DEPARTMENTS IMPACTED
This seems like an obvious consideration, and it is. But it is also often overlooked or not given the attention it demands, which can lead to resentment among individuals or departments not included in the process. These individuals can quickly turn from advocates to opponents and may breed distrust and a perceived lack of transparency as noted above.
From an internal resource standpoint, the number of people affected will impact the overall change management process in the areas of time, materials (e.g., request for proposal considerations if a vendor change is imminent), communication formats (e.g., Zoom/Teams meetings or simple email updates) and frequency. Individual communications, which can consist of ongoing updates that are shared with all team members and stakeholders, should also convey a sense of urgency and rationale for the change. Why is the change needed? What’s wrong with the status quo? What does the change involve? Why now? What’s the expected outcome? How will this benefit the company and employees?
IDENTIFY TYPES OF CHANGE
From a mobility perspective, change comes in many forms. Are the changes tactical or strategic? Will change involve mobility policy modifications or structural program changes? If policy, what are the cost implications, among others? Who needs to be involved in policy changes and who is required for approval? Policy change can be affected at the tactical department level or it may need to be vetted and approved by senior leadership.
Structural program or transformational changes (e.g., new software, vendor/provider change) have enterprise-wide implications, so the clarity and specificity of desired change, features and benefits of said changes, hard costs, soft costs, and opportunity costs – in terms of dollars, time, and political capital should not be given short shrift.
IMPLEMENT THE PLAN
There is far more involved in implementation than our space here allows, but following are some key actions and considerations as you move forward with your change management plan:
- Eliminate Barriers: These may include formal structures or silos that limit the ability of employees to act, inadequate systems, or managers who don’t support change.
- Identify Issues as they Arise: Address them as they come up or they may come back to undermine the process further down the path.
- Ask for Feedback: Negative or positive, feedback is good, and it is critical to long-term success. This will enable early identification of challenges and potential problems and can help prevent them from growing. It also builds trust, which is the currency of effective change management.
- Be Honest: It probably goes without saying but honesty, transparency and communication are critical.
- Highlight Positive Results: People like to see progress and know they are making a difference. Take the time to communicate and promote positive occurrences.
EMBRACE THE CHANGE
Change is not always easy, but as noted at the outset of this blog, it is an ever-present feature of the world in which we live. Better understanding of how to effect change within your own organization and personal lives will serve you well. Good luck!