You might look at change as something exciting or something scary. In the workplace, fear is a common response to change. If you've built up a comfortable niche at work, you don't want someone to come in and tear it apart. But workplace change is necessary. Companies that don't evolve don't survive. Taking a proactive and systematic approach to introducing change in the workplace can mark the difference between evolving and dissolving, and turn a fear of the unknown into the motivation to make it happen.
When something changes in the workplace, it usually involves a project. Projects might introduce new technologies, new processes or new ways of looking at how decisions are made. Whatever type of change is needed, formal project management methodologies help to make it happen smoothly, without turning the business inside out. The Project Management Institute, or PMI, provides a globally adopted set of tools and processes for initiating and planning the project, getting it underway, monitoring how well the change is being implemented, and then bringing the project to a successful close.
Workplace changes might be driven by the need to improve how things are done. Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology focused on bringing about positive changes that eliminate wasted efforts and enable high-quality outputs. Using a Six Sigma approach provides you with a formal process for recognizing and defining the changes needed, measuring the effectiveness of the changes, analyzing the results and introducing more improvements until the process is as close to perfection as possible.
Change control methodologies provide a means to introduce a change without risking business continuity. One area of the workplace where change control is critical is information technology. Business relies on information technologies for everything from engineering to shipping. If the systems driving these processes are taken offline to allow for the installation of new hardware or software, business stops. In today's fast-paced world, with many companies relying on just-in-time deliveries, a business stoppage can't happen. By applying formal change control methodologies, risks are carefully evaluated up front and reassessed as the project moves forward. How the change is implemented must then include steps to prevent a risk from being realized.
Kotter's Change Model
One key stumbling block to workplace change is fear of the unknown. If employees don't understand the change, they won't buy into it and will be reluctant to help make it happen. Consider introducing Kotter's change model to prepare employees for the changes to come. Kotter's model is an eight-step process that drives change from the heart of the company: Its employees. The model starts with creating a sense of urgency to get employees on board and then keeps the momentum going by sharing leadership's vision about the change and communicating short-term successes or "wins" along the way. With Kotter's model, you can build support instead of barriers.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.