Change can be good, but trying to get an enterprise company to do it can seem like a monumental task, especially if you’re the one proposing the change. Because if your company doesn’t evolve, from increasing your digital recruiting efforts to improving your employer branding, it’ll fall behind the competition.
So how can you prepare your organization for the future—and ultimately have everyone accept it? By basing the process on research.
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross created the Change Curve during her work in personal transition in grief and bereavement. She proposed that there are four stages of change:
- Status Quo
While this model was originally designed to describe an individual’s experience, it’s been applied to organizational changes. And companies can use this to understand that, while overhauling a process, each stage will elicit a different response from employees.
Unfortunately, the first two stages can create a negative response, which makes them the hardest to navigate. But just remember these stages are temporary. So if you’re ready to create a more efficient process for your organization, you need to understand how to handle different perspectives and reactions during the transition.
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Don’t Succumb To The Status Quo
When your company decides it’s time for change, people may not be immediately open to the idea. Fittingly, the first stage of the Change Curve is status quo.
In order to maintain the status quo, people respond with shock or denial. They may not be ready to accept that the change is happening. Instead, they dismiss it.
If you want to get company buy-in, it all starts with a strong pitch, argues Inc.com. A strong pitch focuses on:
- What the current pain points are.
- How the change impacts the business.
- Which key performance indicators will determine whether or not the change is successful.
Keep in mind, you need to tailor your message to different audiences. The Head of HR cares about different things than the CFO. You want to emphasize or even rearrange your talking points based on the audience.
At its core, a pitch should include:
- A problem statement: What are we looking to solve?
- Anecdotal evidence: Support why the change is needed.
- Return on Investment (ROI): This does not always have to come in the form of savings, but the investment should yield measurable results and increased productivity.
- A rational argument: How does the solution support organizational goals and do you have clear Key Performance Indicators that measure its effectiveness?
- Leverage existing data and numbers: Support your argument by showing how the proposed solution will improve figures your organization is already tracking.
- A high-level execution plan: How will these changes be communicated and implemented?
While delivering your pitch, bring passion for your ideas, but be willing to negotiate internally. It is, after all, a give and take.
How Do You Get The C-Suite’s Buy-In?
This might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. At the end of the day, you can win over the C-Suite in a familiar way: Get allies.
Discuss your plan with mid-level leaders early in the process, so they’re on-board. The more people that support the change, the better your odds will be to get approval from the C-suite.
Keep in mind, communication is critical at this stage. It’s important to use inspiring language, as HubSpot points out. You want to use a positive and hopeful tone that includes the whole organization. Remember, it affects everyone.
Also, you need to be as transparent as possible about what the changes mean. This includes providing a realistic timeline on when these changes will yield results. Plus, employees can track the progress, which helps people further understand why this will ultimately benefit the company.
Don’t Let Disruption Sidetrack Your Company
The next stage of the Change Curve is disruption. People worry about how the change affects them. They may feel like they’re backed into a corner. And sometimes people can act out if they feel under attack, even when (in reality) they’re not. This usually drives one of two responses.
The first is the unknown. People may not understand what the change does, or why it’s necessary. The second is the emotional. This will vary from people’s uneasiness with change overall, from the fear of an increased workload, to people hating the messenger and not caring about the message.
Speaking to the fear of the unknown is easier: Focus on what pain points this change addresses, and how it solves them. Use research informed by data, of course, to drive your narrative and argue your hypothesis. As Harvard Business Review explains, describing the problem as it is—and not how you view it—allows people to more easily see the solution.
Keep Key Performance Indicators in mind to measure whether or not the change is successful. Focus on what is best for the organization and what will move the needle on company performance. People may be worried about their own self-interests, but it’s hard to argue against an idea that’s in the best interest of the company, especially if they don’t have a better suggestion.
Again, be transparent about the data (in every stage). Seeing the progress helps move the company to the third stage.
Moving beyond emotion is one of the hardest parts of creating change in your company. However, once you do that, the transition gets easier. But there’s still more work to be done.
Want to tackle the remaining changes? Check out part two of our guide to organizational change here!
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